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New team at the Astor

I's curtain up for a new lease of life for the Astor Theatre.

Deal Arts Management selected to run the centre.

The group was given the go-ahead on Monday, ending four months of speculation about the future of the empty building in Stanhope Road.

James Tillitt, chief executive and artistic director of Deal Arts Management, said: “We are just so happy to have been given the chance to bring the Astor community theatre back to the people of Deal.

“We would like to thank Deal Town Council for giving us this opportunity and we now look forward to working with them to make the Astor an exciting and vibrant part of the cultural life of the whole community.

“I’d like to thank our team at Deal Arts Management, Denis Hart, Esme Chilton, Kate Hayes-Watkins and Colin Whittington, for their hard work and enthusiasm during what has been a nail-biting process.

Finishing touches

“And a big thank you to all the local people and event organisers who have encouraged and supported us along the way.”

Denis Hart, who will be responsible for marketing and promoting the theatre’s future programming, said: “We have great plans for the Astor and in the coming weeks will be putting the finishing touches to our first season’s programme.

“Our immediate objective is to get the doors open just as soon as possible.”

Deal Mayor Cllr Bill Gardner said the town council agreed on Monday that Deal Arts Management could have the lease, providing all legal details are agreed with the owners, the district council.

He added: “With the best will in the world, we hope this happens. We must be optimistic.”

Kevin Wood was also in the running to manage the Astor. The London-based theatre producer used to live in Walmer.

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