THE TRUSTEES of Worthys Jubilee Hall have spoken out following their controversial decision to raise rental costs and cut hours at a long-established art school, forcing the family business to look elsewhere after more four decades in the establishment.
Winchester Theater Arts has been teaching dance and musical theater to children in Kings Worthy for 45 years.
Based in the hall, the company started with just 15 students on a Saturday morning.
It is now home to 10 times that number, welcoming students as young as three years old and supervising them up to 19 years old.
During this time he helped “hundreds, if not thousands” of children to pursue their passion, some of whom went on to perform in the West End.
However, the school’s headmistress, Claire Goodwin, recently revealed that her hours had been cut by school administrators at a time when she was looking to expand.
Registered with the Charities Commission, the trustees told him they felt the room should instead be made available for later ‘community use’.
This, combined with the directors’ decision to raise rental costs for the second time this year, has forced her to scale back current operations and consider moving the much-loved organization to new pastures.
Although Ms Goodwin admitted she would be sad to leave the venue, she insisted it could be an “exciting” time for anyone involved with Winchester Theater Arts.
However, friends and former students of the school criticized the decision. They say administrators will struggle to replace the much-loved company once it’s gone.
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In a joint statement, the trustees said: “The Worthys Jubilee Hall has been a well-used and valued community asset for over 80 years. The trustees’ aim is to increase the use of the hall by a wider variety of community and commercial organizations and individuals, and to mitigate the risk to venue revenue by relying on very few organizations.
“To work towards this goal, the administrators have determined a cap for all regular bookings at ‘rush hour’ to allow regular users to only bulk book after 7 p.m. on both weeknights and until 1 p.m. on weekends, making room for new volunteers or business organizations to grow and prosper, and for local residents to book events such as children’s parties.
“Prior to the new policy, Winchester Theater Arts used Jubilee Hall during school terms for more than 27 hours a week. The new policy would have resulted in them either reducing their bookings by 4 ¾ hours or moving those hours outside of the room. premium time slots.
“Instead, Winchester Theater Arts has decided to drastically reduce its bookings to 10 ¾ hours per week. All town halls, as well as residents, are experiencing steep increases in utility bills and as a result, a slight increase has been applied to our hiring fee for commercial users of the room.
“This is now in line with other local halls and ensures that required maintenance tasks can be carried out to keep the hall in operation. As a charity, The Worthys Jubilee Hall is not in a position to subsidize commercial organisations.
“The Worthys Jubilee Hall has maintained reduced hiring fees for community, charity and volunteerism. Trustees look forward to December theater productions to be held at the hall, including the annual Worthy Players pantomime on Friday 2 , Saturday 3, Friday 9 and Saturday 10 December, and Winchester Theater Arts Musical Christmas from Friday 16 to Sunday 18 December.
Having just finished their annual show – which saw more than 130 children perform over three days – Ms Goodwin said no move was imminent and the school would continue to use both the venue and its studio for the moment.
For more information about the school, including hiring policy, visit: jubileehall.org.uk