THE Maltings Theatre and Cinema in Berwick has been hit by the shock resignation of Dr Miles Gregory, its chief executive and artistic director.
Dr Gregory, 34, will leave his post at the end of the year to take up a role in the family business in Auckland, New Zealand.
He has been widely credited with turning around the fortunes of the Berwick venue during a three year tenure which has seen ticket sales rise from 23,000 to nearly 50,000 a year.
Appearances from comedians such as Jason Manford, Julian Clary, Lee Evans, John Bishop and Rory Bremner have all helped raise its profile while at the same time retaining a place for a raft of community-centred activities, workshops and amateur events.
Dr Gregory, who arrived as interim director before taking up the position of chief executive, said: “I am very proud of everything that my team and I have achieved at The Maltings since October 2008.
“Our theatre, once a struggling, dilapidated arts centre with a chequered financial history and selling just 23,000 tickets a year, is now - three years later - a flagship regional venue selling almost 50,000 tickets annually and with a national reputation for excellence and hospitality. We are all proud of our beautiful and successful theatre.
“This wouldn’t have been possible though without the support, guidance and encouragement that you have each individually given me and The Maltings during my time here.”
He believes the time is right, with funding from Arts Council England due to quadruple in April, for a new person at the top to take The Maltings to a new level.
He explained: “For the last three years my team and I, supported by our board of trustees, have dedicated ourselves entirely to transforming The Maltings.
“With strong senior management in place, record ticket sales, and significant future investment secured from Arts Council England, I feel we have reached a position of strength where I can say with confidence ‘job done’ and move on. We will take on new responsibilities as an organisation, and we will expand significantly from April 2012 to meet these responsibilities. It seems like the right time for a new person at the top to take The Maltings to a new level. While I will be very sad to leave The Maltings, Berwick and Northumberland, I am looking forward to new challenges overseas.”
Highlights of Dr Gregory’s time at The Maltings include the refurbishment of the building, the creation of a new theatre, the Henry Travers Studio, thanks to £78,000 European funding and an increase in the theatre’s earned income by 179 per cent since 2008.
His legacy includes a 316 per cent increase in funding from Arts Council England following a sucessful application for National Portfolio Organisation status - the fourth highest percentage increase in Arts Council funding in the country.