Historic arts venue needs to attract bigger audiences, its chairman warns

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The landmark Milton Rooms at Malton need to attract bigger audiences if the venue is to survive.

Its chairman Stephen Shaw told an annual meeting that the North Yorkshire venue have seen its finances transformed from near insolvency to profit in a year. He claimed that it has a potentially buoyant future, but maintained concerts and events being staged there need more support.

The centre, which is used for a wide range of productions and exhibitions, has seen its finances switch from being on the verge of insolvency to a profit of more than £10,000 in a year.

“We were operating at a loss, with a £30,000 debt to Ryedale District Council (RDC) and to Gary Cooper, the former artistic director of £9,000. With the help of our volunteers, caretaker, trustees and suppliers we have moved a long way since those dark and desperate days. RDC’s loan had been written off, we have begun to pay back Mr Cooper, and we have moved from a loss to a healthy profit,” Mr Shaw said.

Mr Shaw made a plea for up to six new trustees to join the management board to take forward the vision and aspirations for the Milton Rooms, Ryedale’s biggest community hall. He said he wanted to see improvements to the building to enable it to attract more productions and for it to become a hub for the arts in Ryedale and to see its use by the local community strengthened.

“The Milton Rooms has a stable revenue stream to support its activities but needs investment in the building to give it a brighter and more vibrant future,” he added.

“We want local people to get involved, especially those prepared to commit themselves to become trustees. We need bigger audiences,” said Mr Shaw, who said that one recent concert had attracted only 30 people.

Politician turned television personality Michael Portillo, is to give an evening performance and talk at the Milton Rooms in November, it has been announced.