Summer is traditionally a quiet time for us at Lincoln Drill Hall. A time when, like hundreds of theatres and arts centres up and down the country we’re carrying out maintenance of equipment and spaces, frantically collating the posters and flyers for our autumn season and preparing for those few events that we have dotted through August. For us that means three concerts this year as part of Lincolnshire International Chamber Music Festival and from bank holiday weekend a Neil Diamond show, followed by David Starkey, Billy Bragg and Levellers presented as part of Festival800 – a week long celebration of freedom, revolution and democracy inspired by Lincoln’s Magna Carta year of celebrations.
It’s also a time here for reflection and forward thinking. Firstly the reflection.
Last Tuesday we launched our autumn season, traditionally our flagship season of work, a packed programme of high quality professional work, alongside brilliant opportunities for community performance, and punctuated by three key events in the Drill Hall calendar, namely Frequency 2015 – the third outing for a city wide digital arts festival, the return of Ockhams Razor with their new show Tipping Point in November and of course our Pantomime, Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs this year – as was said on the night, Christmas isn’t Christmas without the Drill Hall Panto!
It was an emotional evening as well though as this was the last season launch led by our outgoing Creative Director, Simon Hollingworth. For 11 years Simon has been the artistic force behind the venue, challenging audiences across the city to try events, performance and entire art forms they may not have considered, being open in his thinking, willing to take programming risks, creating the vibrant exciting venue that Lincoln has today.
With Simon’s departure though comes the opportunity. We have just published Art, Audience, Experience – our new plan for how myself and our trustees want to see the Drill Hall develop over the next five years – focussing on artistic quality, wider use of the venue as a meeting and special event hub, what we call our institutional marketing campaign, our fundraising – building the support from our ticket buyers to our overall charitable purpose (look out for a new friends scheme in the autumn, a chance to really buy into the overall aims and vision of the venue) and nurturing our incredibly hard working staff team.
We have the opportunity to bring in expertise to look at our artistic delivery and development with fresh eyes, build on our wide ranging participation programme and ensuring that at the heart of everything is a partnership of really great art and the very best in customer experience – whether it be audience members, participants, artists or stakeholders.
Change at the top of any organisation can be scary. There is no doubt that Simon is leaving a fantastic artistic legacy for Lincoln as well as the wider ecology of arts across the county through involvement in Lincolnshire One Venues among other things. However his role is replaced – it’ll be big boots to fill. But change can also be exciting and that is certainly how we’re looking to the future, as we continue to strive to deliver the very best.
As our newly updated mission simply states; We believe that the arts are exciting, enriching and life-enhancing, so we present the very best events, performances and activities for people living in or visiting our city to watch and take part in.
That’s what drives us, always has, always will.