The Garage’s outgoing chief executive reflects on his “amazing journey” with the Norwich venue
- Credit: Copyright: Archant 2015
After leading The Garage for more than a decade, Darren Grice is bidding farewell. He talks to arts correspondent Emma Knights about his 'amazing journey' with the venue.
Performing arts venue The Garage has been on a huge journey since it first opened in 2004, and its outgoing chief executive, Darren Grice, has been there since the very beginning.
He has been a key part of the team that has seen The Garage develop into a vibrant city arts centre that champions young people and offers people of all ages opportunities to enjoy music, drama, dance and more. But this week Mr Grice is handing over the baton to new executive director Adam Taylor and preparing to move to a new role in Rochdale.
'I think it's possibly going to be the hardest thing I ever do in my career, to say goodbye to this place, but I think it's been an amazing journey that I have been on with The Garage. It's a fantastic organisation and I'm really proud of everything that it has achieved and the amazing team that are here,' said 37-year-old Mr Grice.
'We have realised so much – more – than we ever imagined we would achieve, and we have this amazing resource now which is loved by so many people, and it has just been fantastic to watch it take off.'
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Over the years The Garage has gone from a being building which housed events and workshops run by outside organisations to a place that is continually developing its own programme of events to nurture the creative talents of people of all ages.
Its performers entertain the crowds at key city events – from the Lord Mayor's Celebration to the Christmas lights switch-on – and the venue now also hosts performances by professional touring theatre companies.
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The Garage is also in the middle of ambitious plans to revamp and refresh the building for the future.
Mr Grice said: 'We've always felt like we've been running at 100mph. We've just been wanting to innovate, we've been entrepreneurial, we've wanted to say yes, we've wanted to break the rule book up. We've wanted to really mix things up, and I think we have. I think we've made a name for ourselves. I'm really proud that wherever I go around the country people know of The Garage.'
He said The Garage was 'one of the most exciting organisations of its type in the UK,' and in good hands with the new leadership team. Adam Taylor, The Garage's production and operations manager, is to be executive director while Carrie Mansfield and Toni Bentley, who between them have 20 years' experience at The Garage, will be deputy directors.
Meanwhile, Mr Grice, originally from Downham Market, will be starting a new role as head of communities, health and participation at Link4Life, the Rochdale Boroughwide Cultural Trust.
'I am really excited about a new challenge,' he said.
'I love Norwich so it was a very hard decision to leave. I think it is the most amazing cultural city to live in and I've had a wonderful time here. I'm really pleased that The Garage is in a really strong position, and that it's really loved by so many people – and I'll come back and visit!'
Do you have a Norwich arts story? Email arts correspondent Emma Knights at firstname.lastname@example.org