Theatre wins Employer of the Year award in wake of administration that made its staff redundant
A flagship theatre which fell into administration with the loss of more than 50 jobs last month, was named Employer of the Year at an awards ceremony held this week.
Taunton's Brewhouse Theatre scooped the accolade at the Exeter College Skills Awards, three weeks after financial difficulties compounded by funding cuts led to the venue's collapse.
The theatre employed 20 full time and 35 part time staff and was also supported by a team of 20 volunteers
The 352-seat venue was nominated for the award on the strength of its relationship with the college and two students undertaking its Technical Theatre Apprenticeship course.
The college's assistant principal, Iain Hatt, who coordinated the awards, said that the Brewhouse team has been made aware of its forthcoming accolade some weeks before the theatre was placed into administration.
He said that he felt it would have been wrong to rescind the award, which was a reflection of the achievements of theatre's staff and the apprentices they guided over a 12 month period.
He said: "They had been such a supportive employer of our apprentices and I felt it would be inappropriate to tell them that they couldn't win. Awards, in many ways, are retrospective."
The college is now making arrangements at other venues for the Brewhouse apprentices.
The college's awards were held to honour the local employers who are supporting its approach to work-based learning, as well as celebrate the success of its apprentices.
The Employer of the Year award was one of 18 presented to businesses and apprentices on the night and was collected by the Brewhouse's former technical director Amy Spencer and her deputy, Nick Slater.
Andy Sinclair was four months into a maternity cover role as marketing and sales director at the Brewhouse before it closed.
Describing the circumstances of the award win as "poignant and ironic in the extreme," he said the accolade was testament to the professionalism of the Brewhouse's former team.
"It's thoroughly deserved," he said "The hard work that they and apprentices Sam and Jamie put in always make sure that visiting companies and in-house productions were dealt with efficiently and effectively.
"Exeter College is to be praised for offering the Technical Theatre Apprenticeship course, one of the few places in the UK where it's available. It is absolutely gutting that now there is one less place where young aspiring theatre professionals can get the practical experience they need to go along with their studies in order to progress in the industry."
Meanwhile, business restructuring partners, Simon Girling and Graham Randall of BDO LLP are acting as joint administrators for the Brewhouse. It has commissioned estate agent Savills to find a buyer for the venue's lease.
Last month Taunton Deane Borough Council announced it has put aside an extra £35,000 on top of the annual £152,000 it provides in funding to the venue, with the aim of supporting any investment which brings it back into use as an arts hub.
The Exeter College Skills Awards winners list can be read in full here