Rooms for improvement

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Concerts and events at the Milton Rooms, Malton, need to attract larger audiences if the venue is to have a future.

That is the view of Stephen Shaw, the chairman of the management committee, who also said there had been a transformation in its finances from being on the cusp of insolvency to earning a £10,000 profit in the past year.

“We were operating at a loss, with a £30,000 debt to Ryedale District Council and to Garry Cooper, the former artistic director of £9,000,” said Mr Shaw at last week’s annual general meeting.

“With the help of our volunteers, caretaker, trustees and suppliers we have moved a long way since those dark and desperate days. Ryedale District Council’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.”

A new business plan, said Mr Shaw, will cover the next two years and could lead to support from Ryedale House if successful. He said: “If we can demonstrate our ability to trade in surplus over that period, the council has agreed to support the Milton Rooms in design costs and possibly some revenue funding as we evolve towards a more varied arts programme and building improvements.”

Trustees are working with producers and promoters to stage a wide range of entertainment in the main hall and studio ball, while the adjoining Georgian Assembly Rooms had been given the green light to accommodate events for up to 60 people.

Bonnar Keenlyside, a consultancy firm, has finished an options appraisal and business plan and support had been given to the long term plans for the complex by RDC and the Heritage Lottery Fund, together with the Princes Regeneration Trust. Improvements are needed to the building to enable it to attract more productions.

“I want to see the Milton Rooms as the Southern Hub for 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.”

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