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Lib Dem Leader on Sudden Death of Theatre Director, ‘He Worked Tirelessly’

The leader of the Liberal Democrats at GBC, Caroline Reeves, said today how sad were her local party colleagues at the news of the death of James Barber, director of the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre.

In a statement Cllr Reeves said: “It is extremely sad to hear of the sudden death of Jamie Barber, he was always a great friend to all councillors. There are many children in the borough who only experienced the wonderful Yvonne Arnaud’s pantomimes because of Jamie’s generosity in giving every councillor the opportunity to give six tickets to local children in their ward. He felt it was the first experience many children had of the theatre and that it would encourage them to return.

“During Jamie’s time as director of the Yvonne Arnaud he has steered the theatre through major changes in arts funding while still keeping up a programme of original works, for those who go often, alongside more popular plays, to tempt people who are not regular theatre-goers.

“After the Arts Council withdrew its support, he worked tirelessly to secure sponsorship for the theatre as well as negotiating financial support from Guildford Borough Council. This was definitely due to his hard work and the productions which started in Guildford and toured throughout the country that has enabled the YAT to survive while other local theatres closed.”

In a Dragon interview in 2013, James explained that he was a local man having been born in Guildford and brought up in Cranleigh and Horsley. He studied at LAMDA. When he left he applied to 72 theatres for work but received only 12 replies and was offered a job at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre.

Cllr Reeves continued: “Part of that first job was sweeping the stage and always acknowledged how much he had learned through working backstage. In the more than 35 years since that first job, most of his working life has been spent in Guildford.

“He will be sadly missed in the theatrical world where he has been highly respected for many years. Guildford, and especially the theatre-going public of Guildford, will miss him.”

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