The future of Hastings’ White Rock Theatre has been secured for another five years and the council says it’s paying less than before to keep the theatre running.
Hastings Borough Council (HBC) and HQ Theatres and Hospitality Ltd announced this morning that they have agreed a five year extension to the contract to manage the popular theatre on Hastings seafront.
Opened in 1927, the venue is Hastings’ principal theatre space offering a broad programme of theatre, music, comedy and a popular Christmas pantomime. It hosts the Hastings International Piano Concerto Competition and is also home to numerous amateur and community arts events – from The Gang Show to Beatles Day – and a growing participation programme.
The new contract will run from February next year until February 2024. A press release rom HBC says, “the White Rock Theatre will operate on a much reduced management fee from HBC.” However the press release does not say what that reduced fee is and Hastings In Focus has asked HBC for clarification on the amount involved and how that compares to what has been paid in previous years.
HQ Theatres say it has plans to develop many kinds of programming including touring musicals – the national hit show of Dirty Dancing visits in October for a week – as well as classical and modern music. The Sussex Studio space is being improved to offer better facilities for small-scale theatre and music, and will continue to be available free-of-charge for meetings, rehearsals and community events for local organisations.
Another key growth area is the venue’s participation programme. Its popular year-round youth theatre and summer musical project is being extended to include groups for younger children and for adults.
Councillor Kim Forward, Hastings Borough Council’s lead councillor for regeneration and culture said: “I am very pleased to see the commitment to greater community involvement by HQ and look forward to a programme which will have increased appeal for both residents and visitors and should attract audiences from further afield.
“HBC’s regeneration plan for the Bohemia area gives us a great opportunity to look at the need for both improved and an increased number of performance spaces to reflect the importance we place on culture and the arts in our town.”
Julian Russell, CEO of HQ Theatres and Hospitality said: “We are pleased to be able to confirm the extension to our existing contract and to continue our association with the White Rock Theatre for a further five years.
“The White Rock Theatre is a vital cultural asset to the local community so we’re delighted about this positive outcome which will meet the needs of all key stakeholders including HBC, our loyal audience and the many local organisations and community groups who regularly use the facilities at the theatre.
“HQ Theatres and Hospitality is committed to developing the programme of events on offer and we are excited to be extending our creative learning, education and community engagement programmes; ensuring widespread participation among Hastings’ residents and young people. We look forward to developing these plans in conjunction with HBC and other local organisations.”