Maddermarket Theatre defends restructure which saw creative directors leave their jobs

Stash Kirkbride and Peter Beck at the Maddermarket Theatre.Photo by Simon Finlay.

Stash Kirkbride and Peter Beck at the Maddermarket Theatre.Photo by Simon Finlay. - Credit: Archant Norfolk

The trustees of a city theatre have defended a reorganisation that will see its joint creative directors lose their positions, after an open letter raised concerns about the proposals.

Stash Kirkbride and Peter Beck have been told their two-year contracts at the Maddermarket Theatre will not be renewed, after trustees said it needed two full-time management roles, and there was a need for greater financial expertise on the staff.

The letter, addressed to the theatre's board of trustees and published anonymously online, said: 'You may be surprised to realise the extent of the feeling of deep confusion and sadness over this decision, which we feel has shaken the community to its core.'

It questioned whether the decision was in line with Charity Commission rules.

Susan Seddon, chairman of the board of trustees, said they had taken advice from Charity Backroom, a support service for charities, and their actions were in line with Charity Commission regulations.

The letter said the decision was of such 'magnitude and controversy' that it warranted 'an exceptional level of deliberation, consultation, and rationalisation'.

Mrs Seddon said the theatre's board was elected to run the theatre, and took responsibility for taking decisions with the help and advice of Charity Backroom, and added: 'I think it would be inequitable to go out to a wider membership to say 'what do you think about so and so'.'

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She reiterated that Mr Kirkbride and Mr Beck were welcome to apply for the new positions, and added: 'I'm sorry people are not happy, but I think we, as a board, have a responsibility to do what is right.

'I'm confident that time will show that what we have done is right.'

The letter concluded: 'We regret such a letter was necessary, but this action has been driven by what we believe is a shared goal: that of allowing the theatre to continue its positive development trend and realise its fullest potential in the future.

'We hope the board will recognise this and respond in full to each concern.

'Failure to do so will unfortunately result in us having to take the matter further.'

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