It’s a Grand job to run a theatre

The Grand has a special place in the hearts of many local people.

You might have had your first theatrical experience here either on stage or in the audience. And so too might your grandparents and even their grandparents before them.

So how did I end up running the third oldest provincial theatre in Britain?

As a mother of three, I became a mature student at St Martin’s College, gaining a degree in drama and creative writing. A chance assignment at the Grand as a duty manager, and later as marketing manager, led to my appointment as theatre manager in 2009.

In my job I have become a Jack (Jill) of all trades, overseeing technical, box office, publicity, child protection, programming, talking to agents and looking for new talent, negotiating deals and liaising with TV and radio companies, which recently led to a lucrative deal with John Bishop’s ‘Panto’ which brought in much needed revenue and publicity.

The job is never 9-5, I could be here at 7am and not leave the building until after midnight. On the other hand, for many of the big comedians who pull in our big audiences, it’s a leisurely process. Just a casual ‘rider’, usually consisting of never ending cups of tea and biscuits and bottled 
water.

Programming is crucial because as an unfunded theatre all our revenue stems from ticket sales. We work very closely with local businesses, including restaurants, venues and media, to continually promote Lancaster’s heritage, culture and tourism. When I first took on this job, it was quite sparse on professional lets. But the Grand now hosts major opera, ballet and comedy acts, including the ‘warm up’ gigs generally too big for a theatre of this size, children’s productions and many charity gala nights. It is essential to diversify the programme, so as not to dilute the audience.

The one question I am always asked is: “Are you star struck meeting so many famous people?”

My reply?

“No never, they are only people doing a job, a job they love, just like me.”