The Exchange Theatre charity 'unsure of future' as it prepares to leave North Shields base

The Exchange Theatre charity will leave its base at the Saville Exchange Building in North Shields in April. Credit: Google

An arts charity in North Tyneside says it is 'unsure of its future' after it failed to reach an agreement to continue operating from its base.

The Exchange Theatre charity, based at the Saville Exchange Building in North Shields, will no longer operate the theatre and café bar from Monday 17 April 2023 after failing to reach an agreement with the building's new provider.

All events scheduled to take place after that point have been cancelled, with ticket holders being contacted about refunds.

In a statement on its website, the charity said: "Despite open and earnest negotiations with the new provider, we regret that we have not been able to come to agreement where The Exchange Theatre charity will be able to continue to use the theatre auditorium or other spaces to provide an ongoing programme of creative and cultural activities for our communities. So, it is with sadness that we are preparing to leave the building."

The charity's board of trustees says it remains "hopeful" that it can continue to provide an arts and culture offering in some form.

It will be selling off items such as costumes, stage and technical equipment, furniture and art with all proceeds going towards continuing our aims and objectives. 

Toby Bridges, the chair of charity's board, said: “We are proud to have created a place for people to feel positive and opened up the arts to be accessible rather than limited to one section of society.

“As schools move away from arts based subjects, we helped form a space that could fire imaginations and generate the creative spirit so necessary for all of our futures and particularly the future of work.”

North Tyneside Council says the Exchange building remains central to its plans for a "vibrant 'Cultural Quarter' in North Shields".

John Sparkes, the council's director of regeneration and economic development, said: "We recently went to the market to identify an operator through an open tender process. Unfortunately, the current operator was not successful, and through the council's Strategic Property Group a new operator has been identified as Stonebanks Investments.

"Stonebanks are prepared to invest significantly into the Grade II listed building and grow the cultural offer and support our wider ambitions for the town centre.

"Whilst the Exchange will close for a short period of three to four weeks from 17 April, this will enable the new operator to carry out some investment into the interior of the building in advance of its re-opening.

"We understand that the new operator is working with the Exchange Theatre Charity to identify opportunities for existing staff to transfer across to the new operator.

"We'll be working closely with the new operator on the transfer of the building and look forward to seeing this cultural landmark flourish in the future."

A leaving party for the charity is planned for Saturday 15 April.

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