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Stamford Arts Centre venue manager Phil Norton appointed by South Kesteven District Council

An actor and producer who began treading the boards at the age of three has taken over the reins at an historic venue.

Phil Norton has been appointed as the new venue manager of Stamford Arts Centre.

Despite running his own production company for the past five years, Phil is no stranger to the arts centre.

Phil Norton is the new venue manager of Stamford Arts Centre
Phil Norton is the new venue manager of Stamford Arts Centre

He completed a week of work experience there as a teenager and after spending his first day making the tea, Phil asked if he could learn how the box office worked. He spent the next few days serving customers and the managers were so impressed they asked Phil to return on his 16th birthday when they offered him a job.

Phil continued to work at the arts centre until 2017 but six years later, he was keen to return.

He said: “I love the building and everything it stands for – it has a community vibe and is a real hub for the town. I wanted to be a part of taking that forward.

Stamford Arts Centre
Stamford Arts Centre

“As a pantomime producer Christmas has always been a crazy time and now I've got a son, I wanted to be at home more for him. Luckily I saw the job advertised just before the deadline.”

Phil was part of the local theatre scene since he was three, performing with the Welland School of Dance, Stamford Pantomime Players, Stamford Amateur Musical Society, Tolethorpe Youth Drama and Stamford Shakespeare Company.

His career has taken him all over the country, both on and off stage. He started his acting career in pantomimes and classical literature shows before joining Polka Dot Theatre in 2018. He started as an actor and climbed the ranks from production assistant to assistant producer and eventually producer. Around the same time Phil also toured with Rainbow as the character Zippy.

Phil also launched his own production company, Starbright Entertainments, in 2008 and toured for four years before settling to just one pantomime in Motherwell, Scotland.

Phil Norton performed as an Ugly Sister in Cinderella at Stamford Arts Centre
Phil Norton performed as an Ugly Sister in Cinderella at Stamford Arts Centre

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Phil, 36, said: “It's been nice to do it all. I've always had an interest in the theatre and I particularly like producing because you're involved in every aspect and get a rounded theatre experience.

“This new job is about creating positive experiences and environments for people. As a small venue our programme is phenomenal and there's nothing I'm looking to change, but I hope to find those customers who may not have returned to us after covid or don't know what's here.

"I'm really keen to push the local aspect and I'm happy to hear what people think. There must be people with ideas of what they would like the arts centre to offer and I'm all ears.

“We're part of the community and the more we can learn what people want, the better."

Phil (right) on tour with Rainbow
Phil (right) on tour with Rainbow

The 18th Century building includes a 166-seat theatre with cinema screen, ballroom, gallery, cafe, bar and meeting rooms. In September South Kesteven District Council launched a ‘pay it forward’ scheme urging theatre-goers to buy tickets for people who otherwise could not afford to attend.

Do you enjoy visiting the arts centre? What improvements would you like to see there? Share your views in the comments

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