North Walsham arts bosses tight lipped over chief’s shock resignation

Joseph Ballard. Picture: ALEX HURRELL

Joseph Ballard. Picture: ALEX HURRELL - Credit: Archant

The true reason behind the unexpected resignation of a north Norfolk arts charity boss remains a mystery.

Joseph Ballard, 33, has declined to be drawn on his decision to quit as chief executive and artistic director of Arts North Norfolk (ANN) earlier this month.

The news shocked North Walsham, where ANN is based, and it is believed that a number of key volunteers have also stepped down.

ANN chairman Katrina Cole said trustees were waiting for guidance from the Charity Commission following Mr Ballard's resignation.

'I am hoping to be able to make a proper announcement by the end of the week at the latest,' she said. 'Until then I am bound by confidentiality not to discuss this matter.'

Trustees remained '100pc' committed to continuing ANN and all scheduled events in the autumn programme would be going ahead, Ms Cole added.

Nicki Everitt, business manager at North Walsham High School, which owns The Atrium, said ANN was one of a number of community organisations using The Atrium.

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She added: 'the resignation of Mr Ballard will have no impact on the future of the building, nor its availability for local community organisations to use.'

Mr Ballard, who is also a director and performer, said he wished ANN - which he was instrumental in establishing - well, and hoped the community would keep supporting it.

'The Atrium and ANN have been my life for just over three years but it was time to move on and do something else creative,' said Mr Ballard who plans to continue living in North Walsham but will do freelance theatre work, performance teaching and arts projects in a wider area. He hopes to bring some productions back to his home town.

'I just want to say a massive 'thank you' to everyone in the community who has supported the charity,' he said.

'We've done some tremendous things, from making The Atrium a venue regional and national touring productions want to visit, to establishing a rapport with the community through events and projects.'

Mr Ballard, who was raised and educated in North Walsham, returned in 2013 after a varied career in the arts.

When he began The Atrium, which cost £5.3m, had been criticised as an under-used white elephant.

Mr Ballard helped build audiences with a varied programme of touring shows, in-house productions, film screenings and special events. ANN's eight-day North Walsham Festival in June involved nearly 6,000 people.

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