Trust's up-to-date position

In your report of the Berwick Civic Society Question Time session on A Vision for Berwick, you referenced some of Maurice Ward's talk, as a former chairman of the Maltings Trust, (Berwick Advertiser, March 9).

Monday, 27th March 2017, 8:00 am

As much of what was reported was about what happened in the past, I just wanted to take the opportunity to update your readers about where we are now.

I also wanted to reinforce the point that the problems regarding the lack of a lease and difficulties with the council were issues of a long, long time ago. I’m sure Maurice made that clear, as did your article, but I did want to be crystal clear on this.

The up-to-date position is that The Maltings building is leased from Northumberland County Council, with which we have a close working relationship, covering the building and some of our funding.

Our board of trustees is strong, and our chief executive Matthew Rooke has been in post for five years. He brings us a highly valued breadth of artistic and business expertise. Over that period The Maltings has built on its past and secured its status as a major contributor to the quality of life and the economic wellbeing of Berwick and the surrounding area.

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Over the same period, we have successfully launched our Berwick Visual Arts initiative, responsible for the much-praised Lowry exhibition and many others. We have secured funding from the Arts Council England and Northumberland County Council. We have re-introduced award-winning opera and classical music.

We have also completely re-fitted our sound and lighting systems, converted to digital cinema across two screens, continued to deliver comedy, pantos, theatre and concerts in a varied programme, and established an improved financial position.

Big challenges remain, however. The biggest is that public funding cannot be guaranteed indefinitely.

We want our programme to reach the widest possible audience at our venue and off-site in schools and elsewhere. We also aim to work with both the youngest and oldest members of our local communities.

To achieve these aims going forward will depend on public support – as ticket buyers, volunteers, individual donors, corporate donors, and as members of our Friends scheme. Public funders will judge whether or not to back us based on us being able to demonstrate that we reach the whole community, and by delivering an excellent and varied programme.

Both Matthew Rooke and myself would welcome the opportunity to update the Civic Trust and any local groups who are interested in learning about our future plans.

Graham Brown

Chairman, Maltings Trust (Berwick)