Curtain falls on long career running theatres in Barnstaple and Ilfracombe.
ALAN Giddings has announced that he is stepping down as chief executive of North Devon Theatres’ Trust.
Mr Giddings is retiring on Friday after 14 years at the helm of the Queen’s Theatre in Barnstaple and the Landmark Theatre in Ilfracombe, as well as the Museum of Barnstaple and North Devon in Barnstaple.
The trust is not appointing a new chief executive, although programme director Alan Dodd will become director of the theatres.
Mr Giddings said running the theatres had been a ‘real privilege’.
He said: “I shall really miss it; when I was asked to take on the job of running the refurbished Queen’s Theatre and the newly-built Landmark all those years ago, little did I know how all-consuming it would be.
“I knew the area reasonably well from visiting on holiday since the 1970s and having relatives in the county, but it takes time to get to know an area really well and in my village I’m still regarded as an incomer.
“From the start, we wanted to create an organisation that would engage with the local communities in the area, bringing them shows they wanted to see and also a range of other arts and entertainment events that they didn’t know they wanted until they tried them, and enjoyed them.”
Mr Giddings said there had been a number of highlights down the years although community World War II musical Kisses on a Postcard, had been a particularly poignant moment.
“Another brief mention should also go to the North Devon Festival, which at its height with over 800 events across the region really put North Devon on the national cultural map,” he added.
“It’s so important in one of the more remote rural areas like North Devon that communities are given opportunities in the arts, to experience them, to participate and to learn.
“But all these things are only possible because of two key elements: strong financial support, which in our case has been from North Devon Council and the Arts Council, and of course the businesses and people of North Devon.
“No commercial theatre can do what we can do, because as a charity all proceeds are re-invested into programme and learning projects which means that everything stays in our area to benefit the people.
“And the second major element is the theatres’ staff. Our brilliant team are truly remarkable, catching everything that is thrown at them with a skill and adroitness that puts many bigger theatre organisations to shame.
“Yes, there will be challenges ahead in these financially testing times, but I’m sure that North Devon Theatres will continue to push on, lead by my replacement Alan Dodd and the rest of the staff.
“My thanks go to them and to all the trustees over the years who have been so supportive, and of course to the good people of North Devon.”