The future of one of the East of England’s most popular theatres, the Marina in Lowestoft has now been secured with the formation of the Marina Theatre Trust.
Following an extensive recruitment process, a number of highly experienced people from both the local community and theatre industry were recruited and will now work with the venue management to ensure its continued success.
Chairman of the board is a familiar face to theatre goers in the region, Hazel Clover. Hazel has 25 years experience of working in the arts, theatre and entertainment business that has included managing art centres, concert halls, festivals, residencies and theatres. Norfolk born and educated, the majority of Hazel's career has been spent working in and around Norwich and Ipswich before setting up her theatre management business in Leicestershire. Most recently Hazel managed the largest theatre in the region, The Regent Theatre in Ipswich and acted as interim manager at the De Montfort Hall in Leicester.
Hazel said “I am committed to and passionate about the preservation and development of theatres. I have professional and family ties to East Anglia and am therefore delighted to head the Board of Trustees of the Marina Theatre Trust.”
Former Marina Theatre Manager, Martin Halliday who led the bid to operate the Marina as a charitable trust is the venues new Chief Executive. Since returning to Lowestoft ten years ago, Martin is widely credited for having turned around the fortunes of the Marina. Under his stewardship the venue secured its prestigious residency with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, introduced major touring and West End drama and musicals, international opera and ballet, high profile comedians, musicians and the venues’ award winning full scale professional pantomime. In addition the Marina continues to host community events and film. In 2011 Martin received the Encore Theatre Manager of the Year Award and has seen members of the venue team also win awards at national level.
Martin added, “We have a splendid, extremely talented team guiding the future of the venue and this is a very exciting time for both theatre goers and the team here at the Marina. For the first time in three years we are now able to plan far enough ahead to attract some major events and we look forward to announcing these in due course.”
Waveney District Council will continue to own the Marina Theatre building and will work closely with the newly established Board to ensure the historic premises are maintained and improved. A spokesperson for the authority added:
"The Marina Theatre is without doubt the cultural jewel in the districts crown, its continued success is vital to both the well being of local people and the areas economy. We are delighted that, following a rigorous recruitment process we have been able to secure the support of such a diverse team with the specialist skills to ensure its long term future. Building upon the enormous success the venue has had in recent years, We are certain the Marina Theatre Trust will continue to see the high standard of productions and entertainment offered by the venue maintained and indeed expanded.”
Former Finance Director of the Norwich Theatre Royal and Norwich Playhouse, Norman Cullingford joins the Marina team having spent over 13 years successfully guiding the two popular regional venues.
David Blyth has over twenty nine years experience within theatre and arts management in both the commercial and subsidised sectors. David joined the Ambassador Theatre Group in 1992 as General Manager, working closely with the Co-founders, Howard Panter and Rosemary Squire over the next nineteen years. In 2000 he was invited to join the ATG board, as Operations Director and following the 2009 acquisition by the Ambassadors Theatre Group of Live Nation Group of theatres became Property Director responsible for the companies 39 theatre venues.
The venue has announced the return of weekly touring musicals and drama, continuation of the venues highly success residency with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and the retention of the venues full scale professional pantomime, which was introduced to great success four years ago following a gap of some fifty years.
From the local community, board members also include Tracey Parkes, a chartered fellow of the CIPD and a board level Human Resources professional who has held senior HR leadership positions in both the private and public sector for over 16 years.
Local businessmen Joe Larter and Paul Bayfield have also joined. Joe Larter was a previous owner of Gunton Hall, originator of Pleasurewood Hills Theme Park and many other successful local attractions. Paul is Director of Lowestoft Seafront Air Festival which this year attracted over three hundred and eighty thousand visitors.
Joe added “I am delighted to have been accepted as a Trustee and believe the Marina Theatre has enormous opportunities which I hope to help develop.”
Paul added “I am pleased to have been involved in the set up and nurture of the Marina Theatre Trust, having been involved with a similar project when the Lowestoft Air Festival was handed over to the private sector and run as a social and
charitable enterprise, I believe the Marina Theatre is an essential and integral part of the town and the Waveney area and I am keen to offer any skills and expertise towards the success of the project."
The independent Friends Of The Marina are represented at board level by Friends vice chairman Mike Pinner. After working in education for most of his career Mike was appointed Head Teacher of Benjamin Britten High School in Lowestoft for 9 years prior to retirement and has since been involved in educational consultancy as well as being an active founding member of the venues Friends association. Mike added, “Having been involved with the hopes and fears of the Marina for some years,
I am delighted and very relieved to note the quality and talents of trustees that the theatre has attracted. I believe we are entering a new beginning for the Marina Theatre and rest assured that the Friends organisation will play its part.”