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Harlow Council begins process to find new operators for Playhouse theatre

Politics / Wed 8th Feb 2017 at 03:50pm

HARLOW Council has begun the process to find an experienced organisation to take over the management and operation of its Harlow Playhouse Theatre.

Harlow Playhouse is one of several discretionary community services currently funded by the Council. The Council is committed to securing the Playhouse’s future and will be investing £2m over the next three years to making improvements to the building.

The Council is looking to lease the building and transfer the service and all its activities to an external party. However the Council expects to still provide a certain level of funding for the service.

The move follows the Council’s decision* last February to invite potential operators to bid to take over the running of the theatre. The deadline for tenders is 7 March 2017.

Councillor Emma Toal, Harlow Council’s Portfolio Holder for Youth & Community, said: “This exercise is part of our commitment to securing the Playhouse’s long term future and look at how we can secure this but with less Council funding for it. This doesn’t change our ambitions for the Playhouse and where we want it to be. We are looking for an experienced organisation to not only manage and operate the Playhouse but also to take the theatre forward as a significant cultural force for the region. I believe that the Playhouse is currently in one of its strongest positions ever and the time is right to move ahead with this process.”

Given the tender exercise, at this time the Council will not immediately be advertising for a replacement for the Playhouse General Manager post. Members of the Playhouse Management Team, Jessica du Preez and Rory Davies, will take on extra responsibilities. Both have been in senior roles at the theatre for many years now and they will continue to drive the Harlow Playhouse forward.

Jessica will be responsible for the artistic planning, development and commercial side of the venue to include the programming of the theatre spaces. Rory will be responsible for the operational side of the venue looking after the Facilities, Technical, Accounts and Projects Teams.

The staffing arrangements in place mean that the Playhouse will continue to commission high quality theatre and arts productions with a full programme of events already in place for the coming season.

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