Despite the challenges of re-opening The Kenton Theatre following the pandemic and the Omicron variant hitting the panto season, Trustees at the AGM held last night (Wednesday) said the theatre has made significant advances in the past year and is now well situated to develop both in commercial and community activity.
In addition to attracting new customers and events such as Maidenhead Musical Comedy Society who recently presented The Wizard of Oz, the team at the Kenton Theatre is delighted to be able to welcome back Henley Children’s Theatre, the Henley Literary Festival and Immersion Theatre who are returning to the Kenton with the 2022 pantomime, Aladdin. The Trustees have formed a series of Working Groups to identify and prioritise strategic aims for the organisation. This work will allow the Kenton Theatre to develop its long-term business plan, access a wider range of funding streams, increase the reach of publicity output and provide support for artists in creating new work. This focus is a part of the theatre’s goal to build a network of community and industry contacts in order to create opportunities for sponsorship and produce
new performances as Kenton Theatre productions.
Commitment to supporting the local community is central to the Kenton Theatre’s vision for the future with a range of initiatives including providing free tickets to the Pantomime for underprivileged families and the introduction of a scheme to provide subsidised places on the Summer Activity Workshop to be held in August this year.
During the AGM, Members voted to formally adopt the 2021 Accounts which showed a profit of £38K. The figures illustrate a positive picture despite the Theatre having been closed for much of the 2020/2021 financial year and include an insurance settlement due to lockdown closures since March 2020.
Julie Huntington (Chair of the Trustees) was voted on to the Board for a second term while David Rusman (Treasurer) was voted on to the Board after being co-opted as Treasurer in 2021. Steph Maxwell was elected to join the Board of Trustees for her first term. Steph Maxwell runs a performing arts school, Divas & Dudes Dance Academy. Her background is Performing Arts having started dancing at three years old and trained at the prestigious Laine Theatre Arts in Surrey. Steph said, “I’m absolutely delighted to become a Trustee. I’m really excited about helping to future proof the theatre for the next generation and the next generation after that.”
The Kenton Theatre, one of the UK’s oldest working theatres, continues its campaign to raise funds through Kenton For Keeps. Like most theatres in the UK the Kenton Theatre continues to rely on the kind support of the community. A recruitment drive is building the team of volunteers who assist audience members at performances, help behind the bar, and sell tickets at the Box Office. Anybody who is interested learning more details about volunteering opportunities at The Kenton Theatre is invited to email email@example.com.
Nicola Power asked a number of questions about hire rates, overheads and whether shows would be cancelled if audience numbers were below a percentage. Simon Spearing, Theatre Operations Manager confirmed that no shows would be cancelled as he wanted to give “customers confidence when you buy a ticket that the show will go ahead.” He provided comparison figures from 2016, 2019, against 2022 and the capacity and income per show were above previous years. Member Nancy suggested that volunteers who have been volunteering for a certain time should become automatic members. Basil asked about how the programming was put together. Ron McAllister, the Programming Manager said that they look at lots of different shows to get the right balance and he and Simon Spearing would be going to Edinburgh Festival this year to check out emerging talent for this year.
Julie Huntington said: ’This past year has been such a roller-coaster, with so much uncertainty since opening the doors last July. But now we are coming out of the phase where the Kenton was fighting for its survival, and we are very excited to be working on big plans for the future. We are committed to building our reputation as a vital and vibrant hub for arts, education and entertainment both within the local community and nationally. We still need the support of all of our friends and colleagues, our audiences and visiting performers, but we are really starting to put the Kenton Theatre on the map!”