Friday, 24 September 2021

Kenton Theatre still supporting am-dram, says new chairman

AN experienced businessman has been appointed chairman of trustees at the Kenton Theatre in Henley.

AN experienced businessman has been appointed chairman of trustees at the Kenton Theatre in Henley.

Rick White, 56, from Goring Heath, replaces Ed Simons, who resigned in August.

He is best-known locally as the former head of marketing at Henley investment firm Invesco Perpetual, a position he held for 12 years.

Mr White said: “There are five current trustees of the theatre, of which I am one. We had a trustees’ meeting and it was agreed that I would take on the role of chairman.

“The biggest involvement I have now is to be able to oversee, rather than run, the day-to-day operations.

“I bring with me management experience of more than 30 years — senior management experience in the financial services industry and specific marketing experience.

“But it is important that all the trustees put in the sufficient amount of time. We are volunteers but that’s the biggest commitment.”

Mr White became a trustee two-and-a-half years ago and had been a patron for many years prior to that along with his wife Cathy and their family. He said: “There

is a number of things which the theatre recognises and one is the importance of supporting the community.

“For a long time the Kenton has had a remit to support community activities, particularly the amateur dramatic societies and other local enterprises which need access to a theatre to put on shows and other events. It is important that the theatre continues to support these.

“What we have seen in the last four years is the theatre moving forward in terms of being able to put on a professional pantomime at Christmas and also developing our programme so that the theatre reflects what the local community wants to see.

“By doing this we are able to keep what is the fourth-oldest working theatre in the country going and maintain its fabric going forward and give us the opportunity to build our reserves.”

Mr White says he has seen between six and 10 shows in the last nine months or so and says the New Street venue offers a broad range of productions at affordable prices. He said: “The biggest commitment was 13 of us, the family with a few friends, going along to see the pantomime just before Christmas. I had booked the front row and it was great fun.

“Another highlight was seeing Marti Webb in Tell Me on a Sunday.

“I think the quality of productions is comparable to other theatres and I think we have a extremely professional and diverse range of shows and we are able to stage them at sensible prices.

“While it is important for the theatre to generate revenue to maintain it and its activities, it is important that we have that balance. We have West End productions and provincial prices.”

Mr White is currently director of two start-up companies in the financial and technology industries that will shortly be coming to market.

He also volunteers for the Sue Ryder hospice at Nettlebed by organising black-tie entertainment opportunities to raise money.

In 2013, he served as chairman of the Henley and District Agricultural Society, which organises the Henley Show.

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