The 25-year lease that will see The Marlowe Theatre starting a new chapter

Canterbury City Council has handed over management of The Marlowe Theatre to a new independent charitable trust and private company, The Marlowe Trust.

Decision came about to allow ‘success and development’ for the well-loved theatre, as well as saving money for the council.

The new deal sees The Marlowe Trust take over the reins of the day-to-day running of the Marlowe, giving the theatre’s management more artistic and creative freedoms.

Now, theatre management has an increased opportunity to be more ‘dynamic and entrepreneurial’.

Canterbury City Council Chief Executive, Colin Carmichael said: “Although the new theatre has thrived with the council taking a hands-off but supporting role, we all believe the time has come for a new trust, dedicated to The Marlowe’s success and development, to take on those challenges.

“We all believe the time has come for a new trust, dedicated to The Marlowe’s success and development.”

“The Marlowe has become the heart of the city and east Kent’s cultural life and we want to work closely with the amazing trustees and theatre staff to take that on to new levels.”

Councillors made the decision to relinquish control of the theatre in January of this year.

The Marlowe Trust Chief Executive Deborah Shaw cuts a celebratory cake surrounded by theatre chaplains Rev Jo Richards and Rev Tessa Taylor, theatre staff and stars from this year’s panto, Cinderella.

The independent charitable trust and private company are both chaired by one of the country’s top theatre directors, Jonathan Church and Chief Executive Deborah Shaw.

The Marlowe Trust Chairman Mr Church said: “Thanks to the extraordinary efforts of Canterbury City Council, The Marlowe Theatre is a state-of-the-art theatre, has an exceptional staff and a very well-deserved reputation as one of the country’s flagship regional theatres.

“Everyone connected with the trust is proud and excited to be taking The Marlowe on to the next stage in its development.

“We hope to build on the great work that is already being done by The Marlowe and provide the best work and experiences for all of the many audiences and communities we serve.”

The existing staff at The Marlowe will transfer straight to the trust and keep their existing terms and conditions.

The theatre opened in 2011 following a £26.4m remodelling project.

Trust Chief Executive Deborah Shaw, former Head of Creative Direction and Innovation at Historic Royal Palaces and former Associate Director of the Royal Shakespeare Company, said: “As an independent, self-funding charity, we are now able to invest directly in developing our programme on stage and in our creative work for and with the communities of Canterbury and east Kent.

“These are exciting times for The Marlowe as we redefine what a major regional theatre can be.”

The theatre hopes to be better off under the independent management. Due to the new charitable status, it allows the theatre to apply for tax breaks, gift aid, donations and charitable grant funding.

The trust will lease the theatre and the Marlowe Kit from the council for 25 years.

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