So we hit April and the start of a new financial year. Traditionally a time to clear the cobwebs, start afresh whilst your Finance team (for those that have them) sort out the end of the old one. I find this a time to be able to look forward, to think about what we’d like to achieve and what sort of arts organisation we want Lincoln Drill Hall to be.
We stand at the start of a new opportunity for the venue. We are at the beginning of new three year relationships with our two main public funders The City Of Lincoln Council and Arts Council England and myself and my senior team really want to use this to plan in a longer term way than we have in the past.
Part of the reason for this is the inspiring provocation afforded by our place on the De Vos Leadership For The Future programme. We are being challenged like never before to think about our artistic, communication and fundraising functions on a three to five year basis rather than a six to twelve month one. We’re already planning a board away day to look at reviewing our mission and long term artistic strategy. This is linked to some existing work we’ve done to plan out some 5 year programme goals. Big hallmark events that we want to deliver or be part of over the next 5 years.
Already one of these ideas has captured the imagination of a number of local venues so look out for Brute and Beastly, a collaborative festival we’re hoping will become part of the artistic calendar from next year.
With the General Election nearly upon us we’ll need to see how wide ranging strategy proposals contained within documents such as The Warwick Commission Report or the RSA’s Toward A New Contract for Arts and Culture manifest themselves in our work moving forward.
We’ll be looking at the way we market ourselves, not just the programme of events, but the organisation itself, including how we develop partnerships with ticket buyers, donors, businesses and others that can help strengthen our offer. Who are the influential individuals with whom we need to develop a dialogue to deliver the best for Lincoln residents and visitors? What are the key moments each year through which we can develop high profile communications that show off the very best art we have to offer? How do we develop the tools for our board of trustees to continue to act as ambassadors for us and our work?
And underpinning all of this work will be three planks – Foundations that everything we do is built upon: Art, Audience and Experience. I’ve mentioned this in an earlier blog, but they really are key to our long term existence.
I feel that we’re on the cusp of something really amazing. Our goal is to ensure that we link all of these areas up into a cohesive whole. Making sure that our artistic, communications and fundraising futures really are linked inextricably together to ensure that our art is the catalyst for delivering our audiences the best experiences possible when they visit the venue.
And this is on top of the fact that day in day out we continue to deliver great events. The Eastival children’s festival taking place across The Drill Hall, The Collection, Lincoln Performing Arts Centre and the Terry O’Toole Theatre is well under way. The Case Of The Curious Suitcase, Hugless Douglas, Stick Man aimed at younger theatre lovers. For the musical, in association with The Lincolnshire International Chamber Music Festival, we’re offering a lunchtime classical music concert aimed at children and families, with a pre-concert workshop for children. There’s also a Family Folk Day among the varied events that have taken place or are coming up in the next week.
Our new brochure for the summer is brimming with experiences. Outdoor work delivered in association with Lincoln Castle, The Proclaimers, Evita, hard hitting verbatim drama The 56, stand-up comedy from Susan Calman and our Red Herring Comedy Club’s eleventh birthday are just a few of the highlights. We’re building our role as a box office provider for others. We’re selling tickets for Jools Holland at Lincoln Castle already and will soon start selling for the Magna Party at the Castle, The Lincolnshire International Chamber Music Festival and hopefully Lincoln Book Festival as well.
The City is gearing up for The Great Magna Carta Weekend in June. In the autumn Frequency, a vibrant and innovative festival of digital culture is back for its third outing and we’re delighted to be a key venue once again. And whisper it quietly, but we’ve already got half an eye on December and our next spectacular pantomime.
We’re delivering for now, but planning for the future. That’s what we do and we’d love you to join us.