A driving force behind Tewkesbury’s flourishing arts scene and its strong links with business is Deborah Rees.
As Chief Executive of The Roses Theatre, Deborah manages the busy multi genre professional arts centre in the heart of the town. She has a team of around 40 staff, 100 volunteers and a turnover approaching £1.5m.
The theatre comprises a 375 seater theatre which is also used as a cinema and a 90 seater café bar for smaller events. There is also an art gallery.
Under Deborah’s leadership, The Roses has created a programme that combines live performing arts of exceptional diversity, cultural film screenings, art exhibitions and a ground-breaking participatory arts programme. Annual attendance is approaching the 80,000 mark and the team delivers more than 10,000 participatory sessions each year.
“I started as Chief Executive ten years ago and in that time the theatre has undergone a £1m refurbishment programme, trebled its community and outreach work and has become a national portfolio organisation of the Arts Council of England,” explains Deborah.
“I have always been frustrated that the big cities and metropolitan areas tend to have the lion’s share of the arts scene and yet it is so important that everyone has access to high quality arts and entertainment. I have a personal ambition that Tewkesbury should boast a centre for the arts that is second to none and should be an important part of the mix, which attracts visitors, residents and businesses into the area.
“I also believe in the capacity of the arts to contribute to happy fulfilled lives by entertaining and inspiring people of all ages, bringing people to share and enjoy experiences together. The arts also have the capacity to change lives, by improving confidence, self-esteem and well-being.
“Here at The Roses we do pioneering work with people in an arts and health capacity, using the arts as a tool to address issues and bring about change. The Roses works with many agencies and public authorities to deliver services to create stronger communities."
Before arriving at the Roses, Deborah worked in a variety of arts organisations for the last 25 years gaining extensive management, programming and producing experience. She is a founder board member of Create Gloucestershire – the county arts consortium and a board member of Gloucestershire Dance an Arts Council of England National Quality Assessor.