Crunch meeting to decide future of Ilford theatre, as manager quits

A crunch meeting to decide the future of the Kenneth More Theatre in Ilford has been called after the shock news that manager Robert Jackson has quit.

But bosses insist the future is looking bright for the venue despite the departure of Mr Jackson after only nine months.

He told the Recorder yesterday (Wednesday) it was “time to move on”.

He said: “I’ll be going to pastures new.” But he refused to confirm where he is going or the reasons behind the exit.

John Lovell, chairman of the board of the theatre in Oakfield Road, said he was determined the show must go on.

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He said: “It’s business as usual. I don’t think it’s a turning point for the theatre. In terms of management I wouldn’t be able to comment yet, but I think it would be a retrospective step to call [anyone] back after retirement.”

Redbridge Council leader Cllr Keith Prince, who will attend the board meeting today (Thursday) to discuss the theatre’s future, said he was sad at the news.

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“It’s sad to hear he will be leaving, because we had similar visions for the future of the Kenneth More Theatre,” he said.

Three months ago, Cllr Prince said the effects of cuts to arts services in Redbridge could be lessened by bringing services under one roof, in what he described as a “centre of excellence”.

Mr Jackson took over the reins of the theatre from Vivyan Ellacott, who was manager from its opening in 1974.

In March, Mr Jackson made a public appeal against proposed �50,000 budget cuts, which he said could force the theatre to close.

The theatre’s future was thrown into disarray in 2009 after plans for a multi-million pound regeneration of Ilford Town Centre, which would have seen the theatre renovated, were shelved due to the recession.

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