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Curtain comes down on career of theatre chief

Posted onPosted on 7th Jul

The man who has led Mansfield’s Palace Theatre for the past 26 years is to take a final bow.

Andrew Tucker, cultural services manager, retires in July after an ‘unusual’ final few months in charge.

“Here I was at the end of March with a wonderful financial year coming to a close and a potentially very successful theatre programme about to be launched to take me through to July and the long-awaited prospect of retirement,” he said.

“The next thing I knew the theatre was shut down immediately and, when I was set up to work from home, I faced the dismal task of having to contact all of the theatre companies, agents, etc., to try to rearrange dates for affected shows.”

Andrew, who lived in South Africa before emigrating to England in 1994, will be succeeded by Sian Booth.

He said: “I wish her the very best in facing the immediate challenges that Covid-19 presents. I’m confident that she is a very competent and dynamic person, who will move Mansfield Palace Theatre forward into the next phase of its life.

“I know that the staff will give her a very hearty welcome and will support her all the way, as they have supported me over these last 26 years.”

Originally Andrew studied to become a doctor after leaving the Army, but then decided to study drama, being awarded a degree.

1994 proved to be a momentous year when Andrew and his wife, Carla, welcomed baby Claire into the world and also emigrated.

Having worked in South Africa as a stage manager, theatre manager, theatre director, general manager of a five-theatre complex and lastly as deputy general director of a Performing Arts Council, Andrew was invited to interview for the post of general manager of the Civic Theatre, as the Palace was then known, and succeed Colin Carter.

Fortune smiled down on the theatre in the form of the National Lottery when Andrew, along with Iain Hook, then Mansfield District Council’s head of leisure, and Arthur Jepson, from the finance department, successfully submitted a bid to Arts Council England for National Lottery funding.

The council was awarded £1.63m and work started in 1997 to transform the theatre into the venue it is today.
Attendance has grown dramatically over the years with the theatre recently celebrating the one millionth person through its doors since the major refurbishment.

Andrew was also promoted to cultural services manager, which gave him responsibility for Mansfield Museum as well.

He worked with Liz Weston, the now retired curator, and her team as they won many awards.

He said he would miss his colleagues as well as the many theatre managers, theatre companies, artists and agents he has dealt with around the country.

“I will miss the discussions, the advice sharing and the friendly banter with this group of theatre professionals and I wish them all great success for the future,” Andrew added.

He also said his retirement had an additional level of sadness brought about by the Covid-19 crisis. The pandemic has had a major impact on theatres and Andrew hopes Mansfield District Council will be able to continue to support the cultural jewels in its crown like the theatre.

Hayley Barsby, chief executive of the council, paid tribute to Andrew.

“A big thank you to Andrew for leading the cultural offer for the district and in creating a destination for many to attend — the gem that is the Palace Theatre,” she said.

“During these years this little-known theatre has been created into a destination for people to attend, whether to visit Ken Dodd (who would never go home) or to a more refined offer of a ballet.

“We now have a venue that artists love to visit and who return to season after season, but also a place for people to experience a friendly and engaging venue for young and old to create memories”.

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