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Blackpool Grand Theatre announces the death of former Chief Executive, Ruth Eastwood

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With deep sadness, Blackpool Grand Theatre announces the death of Ruth Eastwood, aged 62, former Chief Executive, who served the theatre with distinction and dedication. Ruth died peacefully last Friday, 31 May 2024, surrounded by her family.

Ruth Eastwood’s tenure as Chief Executive from July 2013 to March 2022 marked a transformative period for Blackpool Grand Theatre. Her visionary leadership and unwavering commitment to the arts revitalised the theatre and significantly contributed to the cultural landscape of Blackpool and beyond.

 

Ruth Eastwood and Grand Theatre Stage Crew

 

Adam Knight, Blackpool Grand Theatre Chief Executive released a statement on behalf of all the team: “It is with a heavy heart that we say goodbye to Ruth Eastwood, whose influence on Blackpool Grand Theatre and the broader arts community was profound and far-reaching. Ruth was a beacon of passion and dedication, who brought vibrancy and innovation to our beloved theatre.

“She was not only a remarkable Chief Executive but also a mentor, a colleague, and a dear friend. Her legacy of championing the arts, fostering inclusivity, and nurturing talent will continue to inspire us all.

“Ruth’s staunch focus on enriching the cultural fabric of Blackpool has left an indelible mark, and she will be deeply missed by everyone whose lives she touched. Our deepest condolences go out to her partner, Roger, and her family during this difficult time.”

 

Ruth Eastwood, Duchess of Edinburgh (4)

 

Under Ruth’s guidance, Blackpool Grand Theatre saw a resurgence in both programming and attendance. Her passion for inclusivity and community engagement brought diverse and innovative productions to the stage, making the theatre a hub for artistic excellence and a welcoming space for all. Ruth’s strategic initiatives included the development of educational programmes, outreach projects, and partnerships with local and national arts organisations, including LeftCoast CPP of which she was a founding board member.

Ruth was instrumental in supporting so many of the team during the Pandemic and worked tirelessly in the fight for the arts in Lancashire and the re-opening of the Theatre.

 

Ruth Eastwood, Anthony Stone (3)

 

Anthony Stone, Chair of Blackpool Grand Theatre (Arts & Entertainments) Ltd until January 2024 reflected: “I was privileged to have been involved with the appointment of Ruth to the role of Chief Executive of our Theatre, a decision that proved to be one that moved the organisation from a local resource, to one of national importance.

“Ruth was devoted to The Grand and its success, and responsible for ensuring its survival through the dark days of Covid. Ruth was a delight to work with, who became a good friend, and I will miss her immensely.”

 

Ruth Eastwood, Lottie The Dog

 

Alistair Armit and Bryan Lindop, current Chairs of Blackpool Grand Theatre’s respective governing charities expressed the Trustees’ collective condolences: “Ruth Eastwood was a remarkable leader whose legacy will be felt for generations to come. Her dedication to the Grand Theatre and her tireless efforts to promote the arts have left an indelible mark on our community. We extend our deepest sympathies to her family during this difficult time.

 

Ruth Eastwood, Roger LLoyd Jones

 

Former Chair of Blackpool Grand Theatre Trust, Roger Lloyd Jones added: “Ruth’s experience and support was invaluable. We shared exciting times during which Blackpool Grand celebrated our 125th Anniversary, including a Royal visit, and completed the purchase of the original footprint of the Theatre building, a long-held ambition. The Trustees and I, many of whom joined at the same time as Ruth, greatly valued her experience, good counsel, and friendship. Our deepest sympathies are with her partner, Roger, and her family.

Linda Tolson MBE, founding member of The Friends of The Grand said: “Ruth was a remarkable woman, combining a deep knowledge and understanding of theatre with a keen business sense. She was fearless in her pursuit of what she knew to be right for The Grand.

 

Ruth Eastwood, Hayley Kay, Steve Royle

 

Before joining Blackpool Grand Theatre, Ruth’s extensive career included time as Chief Executive of Leicester Curve, the Lighthouse in Poole, and Darlington Civic Theatre (now Hippodrome) and Arts Centre. Ruth had recently taken up a new position as Theatres Advisor at The Theatres Trust, sharing her wealth of industry knowledge and experience for the benefit of performing arts organisations throughout the land.

Neil Darlison, Director of Theatre at Arts Council England said: “We were so very sorry to hear news about the passing of Ruth. She was known and respected by many, right across the industry as a generous cultural leader whose impact and influence was widely felt. Our thoughts and sympathies are with her family and friends at this sad time”.

 

Ruth Eastwood, Andrew Howard, Shaun Gorringe

 

Blackpool Grand Theatre will in time, and in consideration of Roger’s wishes, be planning a suitable celebration of the life of Ruth Eastwood who contributed so much to this wonderful theatre. This will give friends, colleagues, and community members the opportunity to remember her remarkable achievements and lasting impact.

 

Ruth Eastwood

 

…//ends

 

FOR EDITORS

Ruth Eastwood ‘Memories at Blackpool Grand’ images: https://we.tl/t-Pe8YjwEVo5

 

For further information, please contact:

Andrew Howard, Blackpool Grand Theatre andrewh@blackpoolgrand.co.uk | 01253 290 111

 

About Blackpool Grand Theatre

Blackpool Grand Theatre is a Grade II* listed Frank Matcham designed theatre renowned for its rich heritage and diverse programming. Since opening its doors in 1894, it has hosted a wide array of performances, from classic plays and West End musicals to contemporary dance and comedy. The theatre remains committed to enriching the cultural life of Blackpool and providing a platform for artistic expression. Winner of the 2023 UK Theatre Award for Excellence in Arts Education, Blackpool Grand Theatre is an Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisation and recipient of financial support from The Goldsmiths’ Company Charity towards the delivery of its nationally recognised Story Led Resilience programme. A partner theatre of the Royal Shakespeare Company, Blackpool Grand Theatre’s work is under commission to The Children’s Theatre Partnership and PW Productions. In May 2024, Blackpool Grand Theatre announced a significant £500k funding award from Arts Council England’s Capital Investment Fund to repair and restore the façade of the theatre, marking the first step towards in the journey to returning Matcham’s masterpiece to its former glory.

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