Matthew Rooke, a composer and musical director from Duns, has promised to build on the recent success enjoyed by The Maltings after being appointed as the theatre’s new chief executive and artistic director.
He takes over from Dr Miles Gregory, who is stepping down in December after over three years in post.
Mr Rooke was formerly group director for the Scottish Arts Council and was more recently co-director of the leading Scottish arts consultancy Scottish Cultural Enterprise.
Born in England to Scottish and Gabonese parents Mr Rooke has worked as composer and musical director with leading theatres across the UK, including the Royal National Theatre.
As a performer, he has performed and recorded with artists as diverse as Sir John Tavener, Nitin Sawhney and the James Taylor Quartet.
He was appointed by the UK Government as a member of the prestigious Theatre Trust in 2009, and has spent the last year as the inaugural Horsecross Arts music fellow, culminating in a performance of his new music theatre work ‘Flyting’ at Perth Concert Hall.
Mr Rooke lives in Gavinton near Duns with his wife Nina and his two children Freddie and George, and is set to take up his new position at The Maltings on New Year’s Day 2012.
Commenting on the appointment, Maurice Ward, chairman of the Board of Trustees of The Maltings Trust, said: “The post of chief executive attracted a remarkable amount of interest from across the UK as well as a large number of international applications from as far afield as America, New Zealand, Germany and Russia, and the standard of applications was extremely high, reflecting The Maltings current position as a leading UK theatre.
“Matthew’s extensive experience and his wider knowledge of the cultural sector will be of immense benefit to The Maltings, and we are absolutely delighted with the appointment.”
The appointment comes just months before The Maltings’s Arts Council England funding is due to quadruple as a result of the theatre’s successful application to become a new National Portfolio Organisation.
Mr Rooke said: “Living nearby, The Maltings has always been a focus for culture and entertainment for us as a family, particularly the fantastic improvements in recent years.
“My work in the arts has taken me throughout the British Isles and I can tell you that The Maltings is now one of the best venues that you will find anywhere in the UK.
“It is a great privilege to assume responsibility for The Maltings, inheriting the sound financial platform; dynamic programming; and fantastic and enthusiastic team that Miles Gregory has built.
“I want to ensure that we continue to build on this success to bring even greater opportunities to Berwick and the surrounding Borders communities and I will strive to originate and develop exciting work that will resonate locally and have an impact at national and international level to carry the good name of Berwick far and wide.”
Outgoing chief executive and artistic director Miles Gregory, who is widely credited with transforming the theatre’s fortunes since his appointment in 2008, said: “As a member of the appointment panel, I was looking for someone with great experience, genuine passion, and the ability to lead this theatre into a new era.
“Matthew is the ideal candidate, and I know that The Maltings is very fortunate to have such an outstanding cultural leader on board.
“I wish him – and The Maltings – every success in the future, and I am delighted to leave our theatre in such safe hands.”
Mr Rooke will be formally introduced to Berwick theatregoers at the December 6 event “The Show Must Go On” – a gala tribute in honour of Miles Gregory and fundraiser for the new basement studio taking place in the main house theatre at 7pm.
Members of the public are encouraged to go along and meet Matthew on the night and at the same time say farewell to Dr Gregory.