COMMUNITY support will help make the future of Stratford ArtsHouse a success.
So say Ellis Creez and and Rebecca Hallworth, the artistic directors behind the new operator Proon Productions, along with technical manager Phil Tiso.
The family-friendly theatre company will operate the Rother Street venue following the departure of the ArtsHouse Trust.
Ellis – who is from Birmingham – said: “We know the business thoroughly and realise that a huge part of writing, directing, performing and producing work is having the ability to communicate and to get to know your audience – this is vitally important to us as the new operators.
“We aim to build trust through good communication with the community and understand their needs and will fulfill them as best and realistically as we can.
“The most important thing to stress is that people get behind the venue and support it.”
The former operator vacated the building after owner Stratford Town Trust pulled the plug on funding.
Trust chief executive Justin Williams said the theatre was not sustainable as a business and relied too heavily on hand-outs.
To meet the venue’s financial demands, the trust will be providing some funding, while the pair are planning a number of fund-raising events to get them started.
Dominic Skinner – who launched the ‘Save the ArtsHouse’ campaign shortly after the announcement The ArtsHouse Trust would no longer be running the venue, welcomed Proon Productions but assured the community would be holding the operator to account.
He said: “I think it’s great the town trust has taken things forward and I would urge Proon Productions to engage and involve the community.
“I do hope they are a success and that we can help them to be.
“People still feel strongly about the ArtsHouse and we will be holding them to account.
“The campaign has proved when people get together they can make a real difference, there will be some scrutiny and some big questions.”
But the duo assured they understood how valuable the space was to the community.
Ellis said: “Rebecca used the building as a youngster herself when it was the Civic Hall so knows how valuable the space is to groups in the town – it is a lovely building and a space which allows the people of Stratford a performance area and alternative venue which is much needed in Stratford.”
He added while they were in favour of variety, there was a ‘need’ for more family events and revealed they planned to put on a new show of their own every season.
Other changes they hope to make include a ‘significant redecoration’ of the bar, ongoing work experience placements for students and plans to create a giant wall decorated with the faces of the community.
And ‘visible hosting’ and ‘good old fashioned talking’ will also be at the heart of their new role.
Rebecca and Ellis met working in outdoor theatre in Stratford and began writing and performing together. And in 2012, a successful tour of their Laurel and Hardy show gave rise to Proon Productions.
The team went on to write and perform a version of The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, and Hoot Owl, which was performed at the ArtsHouse in February.
Search Proon Productions on Facebook for more information.