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Paul Scholey and Alan Gay dressed in suits stand on the stage at Leeds Grand Theatre with the auditorium in the background

Meet the Chair(s) of the Board

This week sees a change to the Chair of the Board of Trustees at Leeds Heritage Theatres. As a registered charity, we have a Board made up of volunteers who give their time and expertise to ensure that we fulfil our charitable purpose, provide strategic oversight to our vision and ensure the organisation is run legally and remains financially resilient. It’s a huge task and we are extremely grateful to all those who give their time to us in this vital role.

A key role is the Chair of the Board, which, for the past six years has been Paul Scholey, a partner at Morrish Solicitors. Paul has seen Leeds Heritage Theatres through one of the most challenging periods in its long history with the company coming close to closure in the pandemic. Thanks to funding from the Culture Recovery Fund, the charity survived the pandemic, and the time has come to hand the position over to a new Chair, Alan Gay, who has been a Board member for the past five years. Alan was previously Deputy Chief Executive of Leeds City Council and is well-placed to support us through the next few years as we rebuild after Covid and weather the cost-of-living crisis faced by all.

We caught up with Paul and Alan to get their thoughts on being on the Board.

Written by Amy Sanderson

Paul, what has been your highlight during your time on the Board, including your period as Chair?

Paul: For me it’s been working with a great, committed Board and a wonderful management team at Leeds Heritage Theatres. The company has gone from strength to strength despite some seriously challenging times. Seeing people pull together and keep going shows the passion and love the team have for their work and the organisation – it’s inspiring.

I’m also incredibly proud that our venues are the ‘cultural crown jewels’ of Leeds. They’re all just so special and it’s been a privilege to be a part of helping them survive.

I could go on all day; I’ve loved every minute of it.

Alan, what made you want to become a Trustee at Leeds Heritage Theatres?

Alan: I’ve had a long association with all the venues as a customer over the years and then, of course, through my previous role at Leeds City Council where I was the Honorary Treasurer for the organisation. Once I’d left the Council, I was keen to become more involved so took the opportunity to join the Board. I’m proud to be able to be a part of Leeds’ amazing cultural offer.

Paul, you’ve been Chair through some of Leeds Heritage Theatres’ most challenging years, what are you most proud of?

Paul: Helping to create the resilience that enabled us to survive COVID-19. But alongside that, I think we’ve worked with the management team to encourage a positive working culture for all staff; something which is very close to my heart. The other stand-out is managing to keep one of the venues open safely when the roof was falling off! It’s been varied!

Alan, what are your key priorities as incoming Chair? What are you most looking forward to?

Alan: Hopefully no more broken roofs! But more seriously, I am really excited about the re-opening of The Hyde Park Picture House early next year and seeing that flourish with its extended space and additional screen. I’m also keen to see more of our Youth Theatre and learn more about the work our Learning and Engagement team are doing across the city.

Obviously, a key priority must be getting our financial position back to where we were before the pandemic, an even bigger challenge given the current economic climate. We also still want to improve our buildings for everyone within the constraints of our budgets with our ongoing programme of maintenance and improvements.

And of course, I’m looking forward to seeing performances, watching films and being part of an audience!

And what do you think are the major challenges facing the charity?

Alan: Mostly as outlined above, the current economic climate is challenging for everyone – I think it’s going to be a difficult time but we are a resilient organisation (it’s one of our values) and I know we will weather the storm. I also think there’s a huge challenge to us to respond to the changing world we live in – we need to reflect our city in our programme and in our team. We need to create opportunities for more people to be able to engage in our programme and our activities – I know these are things we’re already working on and I’m sure we will move closer to our goals over the coming years.

Paul, do you have any advice for Alan as the incoming Chair?

Paul: Enjoy it! It’s a privilege to help run the best venues in the country – not that I’m biased! Also, rely on the team – they are amazing!

Join The Board

Alongside the new Chair, we’re also looking for four new Trustees to join the Board. More information about this can be found here, but we asked Paul and Alan what they think are essential skills if for anyone considering applying:

Alan: I think a commitment to the vision, mission and values of the organisation – you’ve got to believe in it and want the charity to succeed. An understanding of governance is key – there’s quite a lot of responsibility involved in being a Trustee and you need to be aware of that (there’s lots of detail about this in our Information Pack).

Paul: Commitment. It can’t be done in a few hours a year. Getting involved is not just essential, it’s rewarding, productive and fun. A sense of humour helps too!

If you think you’d like to apply to join our Board, you can find all the information you need here.

Our Mission, Vision and Values

Our Mission

As a registered charity we provide a positive, inclusive, and sustainable environment in which to entertain, educate and inspire.

We provide spaces and experiences for people to connect, work, learn, play and enjoy together. We continue to develop our artistic programme and activities to include a wide range of performing arts and film, forming lasting connections and partnerships across our region.

We believe that the arts and culture have the power to change lives, improve well-being, and remind all of us of what connects us as humans.

It’s why we exist. It’s what we do. It’s what we love.

Our Vision

To connect people through arts and culture and inspire future generations to progress our story.

Our Values

  • Create the extraordinary
  • Bring people together
  • Be resilient

Leeds Grand Theatre Buildings Fund

As a Grade II listed building, we want to preserve Leeds Grand Theatre for future generations, making it more accessible, sustainable, and comfortable; everything we do will enhance your experience as a customer. All donations will be fully invested in ongoing projects, including improved access facilities, changing our lighting to LED, and investing in a new Flying system.

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