A FAMILIAR face is back at Sheffield City Hall - and this time Richard Hunter is running the place.
Steeped in the entertainment industry, he is the new general manager of the venue where he worked for ten years up to 2004.
“I have always loved this place,” he said this week. “I probably know 20% to 30% of the staff, which is nice.”
Richard, aged 47, moves across the city centre from running the O2 Academy in Arundel Gate to take over from Dominic Stokes, who has been given a wider brief as general manager of events for Sheffield International Venues whose portfolio includes the City Hall.
His job will be to oversee a programme of entertainment, arts, business and community events, which has expanded since the £12m refurbishment but has to be delivered in an increasingly difficult financial climate.
He arrives just after the Liberal Democrat spring conference, which saw the profile of the City Hall raised nationally. The feedback has been positive, with other big organisations expressing interest in the hall, said Richard.
He wants to encourage more local promoters and local organisations, such as schools, to use the venue, and to see more weddings, for example, in the ballroom. At the same time, he has to maintain the venue’s wider reputation.
“I have enjoyed working at the O2 but I saw this job and it is not one of those jobs that comes along very often,” he said. “I’m looking forward to the challenge.”
Richard’s entertainment career started at Warwick University in the 1980s where he studied comparative American studies and went on to become entertainment manager at the students’ union. He managed a band for three years before returning to entertainment management at Liverpool University students’ union. In 1993, he came to Sheffield.
He was entertainment manager for Sheffield Hallam University, before operations manager at the City Hall from 1995, helping to prepare for the refurbishment. He left to pursue an MSc in leisure events and facilities management at Hallam and to look after twins Kate and Aimee, now seven. Richard lives with his wife, Julia, and family in Hillsborough.
He is “delighted” to be back at the City Hall. “It’s always been a venue I’ve had a lot of affection for but I am also aware that it’s a venue well loved by many people, so with that goes the responsibility of ensuring the building’s heritage is upheld.”
SIV deputy chief executive Andrew Snelling said: “I’m sure that under his leadership the City Hall will continue to deliver the high quality entertainment and business events it has developed since the refurbishment.”