Playhouse founder ‘business champion’

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Playhouse founder Pauline Ross has been hailed as a “true business and cultural champion” after being honoured by the local Chamber of Commerce.

The founder and artistic director of the Artillery Street venue was recently awarded her second Chamber of Commerce award in as many years when she picked up the ‘Arts and Cultural Individual of the Year’ title at the Derry~Londonderry Business Awards 2013.

The award, sponsored by Richmond Centre, was designed to recognise and reward an individual who has contributed in developing the arts and or cultural offer of the city.

Sinead McLaughlin, Chief Executive, of the city’s chamber of commerce said: “Applications for this award were received by external nominations and to win this award is a true testament of her leadership and vision in this sector. Pauline was also last year praised at the Chamber Annual Dinner in receiving the annual Business Achievement Award for 2012 as ‘a true business and cultural champion’, both for her enormous contribution to the Playhouse Theatre, and to the city as a whole.”

Pauline said she was “honoured and delighted” that arts and culture were being recognised by the chamber of commerce as real economic drivers for the city. “The chamber is actively highlighting what an asset the arts can be for assisting urban regeneration, not to mention the feel good factor that only arts and culture can bring,” she added.

The year’s awards were organised by the Chamber of Commerce and the City Centre Initiative with the support of principal sponsor Bank of Ireland UK.

The ceremony was hosted by UTV presenter Gerry Kelly, who praised the quality of the finalists.

Meanwhile, membership to chamber of commerce has increased, it was revealed at the organisation AGM last Wednesday. Ms McLaughlin said: “Membership of the Chamber has increased by a quarter in the last three years, during the worst financial crisis in our lifetime. This demonstrates very clearly that old and new members see the Chamber as providing services that help them survive the recession. We do that through our networking events and by enabling members to benefit from valuable services, such as how to improve their ability to export.”

Chamber President Philip Gilliland added: “The Chamber makes the case for the North West both loudly. We are unapologetic in explaining that the Executive needs to support local enterprise and innovation.”