LEADERS at an arts centre firmly in the heart of the community have big ambitions to build on the role it plays in the district it serves.

Katy Taylor, the new chief executive of the Queen’s Hall, in Hexham, underlined her goals for the already popular centre to become more inclusive for people across Tynedale.

Addressing the latest Hexham Town Council meeting, Mrs Taylor spoke of her aim to forge closer links to the area’s schools, and other organisations.

“We need to make sure everybody who comes through the door, or anybody who lives or visits Hexham, has a sense of entitlement to come to Queen’s Hall and join in,” she said.

“What really helps is making links and working together with members of the community, and hopefully working with the town council and business community on ways to increase the footfall to our building, and also to nearby businesses.

“We want to bring a bit more chaos and a bit more noise by bringing people into the building.”

Mrs Taylor was speaking at the town council meeting following a particularly successful weekend for the Queen’s Hall, which saw 1,200 tickets sold over four days.

Among the ideas to build on demand was for the Queen’s Hall to become a producing house which would allow young people to create their own work in-house.

Another, was to relaunch and revitalise the annual Hexham Gathering, a youth folk music festival which attracted hundreds of musicians.

One idea which had been successful in the past was to ask customers to ‘pay what they felt’, and there were plans to use that payment scheme again in the coming months.

Mrs Taylor said: “We trialled this in the library last season and you don’t pay until the production has finished.

“If you’re not sure about the production, you don’t pay anything and that breaks down some barriers.

“It will encourage families who can’t afford to come into the theatre to come in and we have had some interesting conversations about how to develop what we do.”