Friday, 24 May 2019

Theatre manager’s job split up again

Theatre manager’s job split up again

THE general manager of the Kenton Theatre in Henley has stepped away from the role but is to stay on.

Paula Price-Davies had been in the job for just over two years and shared it with Tom Ryan until he left last summer. Now the job is being advertised again.

Chris Tapp, chairman of the theatre’s trustees, said the role would be divided again.

He said: “We’re just making some changes to improve the way the theatre is administered.

“Effectively the job was split into two parts — the artistic role and that of general management of the business and the theatre.

“Now we’re going back to that arrangement but Paula is going to take on the artistic role rather than the management role, so it’s just a move around really. It’s not hard to see that the artistic input and practical input are very different skill sets.”

Mr Tapp, an architect who became chairman in October, wouldn’t comment on the number of days the new manager would be expected to work. He said Ms Price-Davies’s new role would involve running the programme and dealing with publicity and communications, which she had already done “extremely well”.

He wouldn’t comment on her performance as manager of the New Street venue, saying: “I’m not discussing someone’s personal performance with you and it’s very wrong of me to do so. The Kenton is a huge asset to Henley. It exists principally by the efforts of a huge number of volunteers and it has done for years and it would be really nice to find a way of being positive about the Kenton and to not use this small administrative alteration to build up a story that doesn’t exist.”

The advert for Ms Price-Davies’ former job, which appears in this week’s Henley Standard, says the Kenton requires an “experienced theatre professional with proven people management skills, a deep understanding of the technical aspects of running a theatre and an ability to manage multiple projects while maintaining a high level of attention to detail and accuracy”.

This is the latest in a series of changes at the Kenton, the fourth oldest working theatre in the country.

In August the Henley Standard reported that it had recorded a loss for the first time in at least five years as a result of rising costs, including more than double the expenditure on staff, and a drop in income.

At the start of that period its long-serving managing director Wendy Bowsher stepped down and was replaced by general manager Zsuszi Lindsay, who then announced her departure after just four months.

The role was then taken over on a shared basis by Ms Price-Davies and Mr Ryan, who was then also programming director for the Henley Literary Festival.

Ed Simons, who had been chairman for six years, stepped down for “personal reasons” in August 2016.

His successor Rick White resigned in July after less than two years following “internal disagreement over management issues”.

Ms Price-Davies did not respond to requests for
comment.

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