TRUSTEES of the Milton Rooms in Malton are planning its future to ensure it meets the needs of the community in the coming years.

An initial three-point plan to provide a new direction for the venue has been put in place.

The move comes following the appointment of Ray King as interim chairperson of the Milton Rooms, following the departure of Paul Andrews, who has stepped down from his role as chairperson and trustee.

Ray is a trustee of the Milton Rooms Charitable Trust and also a member of Ryedale District Council and Norton Town Council.

He said: “On behalf of the charity, I want to pay tribute to Paul Andrews who has helped steer the Milton Rooms through a very difficult phase in its history.

“I know that the trustees wish to thank Paul for his leadership and for everything he has done to help keep the charity viable.

“Without audiences, rural arts have been one of the casualties of the pandemic over the last six months and despite government and other support being available many such venues across the country have been struggling to survive."

He added: “Whilst the Milton Rooms remains a going concern in its current form, it’s now time to reset our plans for the future.

“The venue plays an important part in the recreational life and well-being of Malton and Norton, as well as the wider populous of Ryedale, and we shall now set our minds to the development of a sustainable operating model that will ensure it can continue to meet the needs of our community in the coming years.”

The Milton Rooms was forced to close in March due to the coronavirus pandemic, but will reopen with Ryedale Blues Club on September 24, followed by a production of Three Men in a Boat on September 27 at 2.30pm.

It is a charitable limited company, run mostly by volunteers, which hosts community groups such as Musical Memories, Ryedale Youth Theatre and Vintage Dance.

He said: “Our first priority will be to broaden the base of our trustees. There’s an enormous amount of rich talent and experience in our region, and we need to tap into that expertise, by first re-creating an environment where people are not only willing to get involved, but where they are listened to and are genuinely able to find ways to express their own passion for the arts in our community.

“Secondly, we need to re-build our volunteer network. Community arts venues are only able to operate successfully with a strong volunteer base – and the Milton Rooms is no exception; they are the bedrock of such venues and they need to know they are valued.

“And thirdly, whilst we need to consider the immediate future as we emerge from the threats of the coronavirus, our priority will be to listen to and work with all our stakeholder partners – and to develop a new long term sustainable framework in which the Milton Rooms can thrive.”