Hull Truck Theatre appoints executive director Pat Weller following departure of Andrew Smaje
HULL Truck Theatre has announced the appointment of an interim executive director.
Patricia Weller will be joining the Ferensway theatre on Monday to provide "executive management cover for a period of six months".
Mrs Weller's appointment follows the departure of the theatre's previous chief executive Andrew Smaje last November.
Geoff Sargieson, the newly appointed chairman of the Hull Truck theatre board, said: "Pat Weller comes to us with a wealth of experience of executive roles in the theatre and I am delighted someone of her calibre has agreed to join us."
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Mrs Weller has an extensive CV, working for arts organisations and companies throughout the UK.
She is a former executive director of the Royal Exchange Theatre, in Manchester, and more recently was interim chief executive officer at the Curve theatre and arts venue in Leicester, where she fulfilled a role similar to the one she is about to undertake at Hull Truck.
Leicester's 450-seat Curve theatre holds many similarities to Hull Truck, being one of the country's few modern, new-build theatres. It was opened by the Queen in 2008.
After training at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, Mrs Weller began her career in the theatre as a stage manager.
Later jobs have included general management at the Mermaid Theatre and Arts Theatre, in London, and as a producer at Disney Films and the West Yorkshire Playhouse.
In 2011, Mrs Weller was appointed as interim chief executive at the Festival City Theatre Trust, which runs the Festival and King's theatres, in Edinburgh.
While there, Mrs Weller faced a programme of funding cuts similar to the one Hull Truck has had to grapple with in recent years.
Mrs Weller takes over at the helm at Hull Truck facing major challenges after a turbulent two years that has seen the city's cultural gem struggle with funding cuts and controversial leadership decisions.
Following Mr Smaje's departure last year, it was revealed Hull Truck had received an extra £1m in public funding in 2011 to keep it afloat, on top of its annual £520,000 Arts Council grant.
While Mr Smaje's tenure at Hull Truck attracted criticism for its programming decisions – such as staging highbrow but commercially unsuccessful shows such as Krapp's Last Tape – he also garnered praise for encouraging exciting new local and national talent.
Acclaimed Withernsea playwright Tom Wells and new Hull theatre company Middle Child have both staged shows at Ferensway – as has the Royal Shakespeare Company.
Mr Smaje also re-forged links with Hull Truck's founder Mike Bradwell, who returned to mark its 40th anniversary with a series of events.