THE artistic directors of the Milton Rooms in Malton have resigned from their positions.

Garry Cooper and Nick Bagnall spearheaded plans to revive the venue as a major arts facility for the region over the past two years.

However, Garry, who is currently working with Nick on a production of Shakespeare’s Henry VI in York, said he had now taken the decision to step down as chairman of the Milton Rooms management committee, and he and Nick have resigned together as artistic directors, citing differences with others involved in the running the venue.

He said: “It is with deep regret that, owing to artistic differences, Nick and I have had to resign our posts as artistic directors.”

Earlier this year Garry said they were making positive steps towards the Milton Rooms becoming a leading regional theatre with the venue’s reputation growing both locally and across the country.

About 16,000 people came through the doors in 2012, with increasing inquiries from touring theatre companies interested in showing productions at the venue.

The Prince’s Regeneration Trust threw its weight behind the ambitious venture last year and Ryedale District Council has agreed to invest up to £25,000.

Council leader, Coun Linda Cowling (Con) said she was “very sorry” to hear about Garry and Nick’s decision.

“They have been excellent for the Milton Rooms and I appreciate everything they have done there,” she added.

“I will certainly be speaking to them myself to see if there is anything I can do and seeking a meeting with the Milton Rooms trustees.”

Paul Andrews, vice-chairman of the Milton Rooms committee, said Garry and Nick had left the Milton Rooms in April to work on the Shakespeare production but had remained artistic directors in their absence.

“Last month they decided to resign as artistic directors and Garry resigned the chairmanship.

However, Garry has not resigned from the Milton Rooms committee and has offered to continue with the work he has done on promoting the Milton Rooms through the Prince’s Regeneration Trust,” he added.

“The committee is not sure to what extent Garry and Nick will wish to continue their involvement with the Milton Rooms when their Shakespeare project finishes.

“The committee hopes they will want to be fully involved again, and do not plan to make any changes until then or without discussing the matter further with them.”

Coun Andrews said Garry and Nick had done great work for the Milton Rooms.

“They have proved that the Milton Rooms has enormous potential as a hub for the arts, particularly the performing arts.

“They have brought together a great team of committee members and helpers, and have presented shows by nationally-known celebrities,” he added.

“They have achieved wonders.”