Drama at theatres trust as senior figures bow out
TWO senior figures at the trust that runs the King's and Festival theatres have quit their posts following months of financial turmoil that have blighted the city's flagship cultural venues.
Chief executive John Stalker yesterday announced he will stand down from the top job at Festival City Theatres Trust, as it emerged that head of sales and marketing Darrell William is also leaving his post.
Their departures come after a difficult year for the two venues, which have faced financial crisis and falling ticket sales.
Earlier this year, the trust announced it was to cut 300,000 from its wage bill, after revealing that audience numbers had fallen by up to 15 per cent.
It is also scaling back the programme at the King's Theatre from 24 weeks of productions a year to only 15.
In February the Evening News revealed how the trust had asked the council to provide 400,000 of funding early in order to help to pay its bills.
Among the options currently being considered is whether the city council should take the venues back from the trust, which operates them on its behalf, and run them "in house", or whether they should be sold off to the private sector.
Mr Stalker, who served as chief executive for a decade, will leave the job within two weeks to return to theatre production in the independent sector.
In February he spoke of how difficult it had been to tell staff of possible job cuts and said the theatres were "like families".
He said in a statement yesterday afternoon: "I have had ten hugely enjoyable years at the helm of these two great theatres and worked with a remarkable team of people.
"It's now time to hand over to a new leader who can take the theatres forward to new heights of achievement."
Mr Stalker, who as a student was among the group that established the Old Town's Bedlam Theatre, will leave his post on June 30.
Mr Williams, who is understood to be taking up a post in Stirlingshire, will leave next month.
A review of Festival City Theatres Trust is currently being carried out by Graham Devlin, a respected authority on theatres and the former chief executive of the Arts Council of England.
The consultant, also a theatre and opera director for a range of companies, will make recommendations on the way forward for the trust.
He is also expected to assess whether the current management team, including Mr Stalker, had been running the venues properly.
Chris Masters, chairman of the trust, said: "John has made a major contribution to the trust over his ten years as chief executive.It has been a personal pleasure to work with him and all at the trust wish him well in the future."
Councillor Deidre Brock, culture convener at the city council, added: "I wish John and his family all the best for the future and look forward to welcoming his successor in due course."
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Thursday 20 June 2013
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