The venue’s closure, described by interim Chief Executive Clarie Middleton as a “period of reflection”, is expected to last between six and nine months but will not affect the return of Hackney Empire’s much-loved pantomime in 2010.
The decision, taken by Middleton and the Hackney Empire board, will allow the venue time to consider ways to overcome the financial difficulties which have hampered it during 2009, but will also involve redundancies. During the period in which the theatre is dark, the venue will operate with a skeleton staff, but will continue its work with youth and the local community.
The search for a new Chief Executive will begin in the New Year as the venue begins its journey to emerge from its temporary closure a stronger entity, ready to move forward towards the 2012 Olympics and beyond.
A spokesman for the Hackney Empire stressed that the period in which the theatre is dark would not affect the programming of either the 2009 or 2010 Hackney Empire pantomimes, the annual production which brings both locals and theatregoers from further afield together for a traditional festive treat.
The 2009 production of Aladdin, which runs from 28 November to 9 January, will see Hackney regular Clive Rowe returning to the venue once more to play the panto dame in Susie McKenna’s production.