AUTUMN 2020 - EDITION 26
LIGHTHOUSE NEWSLETTER | LIGHTHOUSE NEWSLETTER
THE LOCKED DOWN (BUT NOT OUT) ISSUE
CRF: 'RELIEF AND GRATITUDE' WHAT WE DID IN LOCKDOWN FUNDRAISING 01202 280000 www.lighthousepoole.co.uk
INTRO The date is etched on my memory forever – 12 October 2020, the day we heard that Lighthouse had been awarded the full amount we applied for from the Government’s Culture Recovery Fund. The relief and gratitude are immeasurable. There’s huge relief that we are still a going concern – it has been touch and go at times over the last few weeks and our amazing supporters who have donated cash, or created performances to fundraise for us have ensured that we have survived while waiting for the funding decisions. It’s a huge relief to know that we’ll definitely be here in 2021 and that our community will have somewhere to experience live performance, visual arts and cinema; and it’s huge relief that artists and creative practitioners, as well as participants in courses and classes have a venue in which they can make their work and learn their craft. There’s also massive relief that our resident BSO is able to be back in the building and presenting concerts. The Government’s decision to provide extraordinary funding support was a very long time coming and during that period of uncertainty all of us in the cultural sector have been on a very stressful cycle of planning without knowing when or how we would re-open. Plans have had to be made and remade according to the requirements of updated guidelines and the emotional response has swung from despair to determination stopping at all points in between. Now that this financial lifeline has been thrown, the sense of gratitude is extreme – gratitude that we can provide at least some of what we are here to do and that we live to fight another day. But it has been a real struggle and now that we know we can keep going for the time being it has been possible to reflect on the journey we have been on since lockdown was imposed in March. There’s no masking the reality that we have been battling a grave and imminent threat to our very existence. I deeply regret that we have had to make the jobs of a number of deeply loved colleagues redundant and that our casual staff have not been able to work for a while. Despite the financial support, and while COVID dominates our world I still can’t say with all certainty that we’ll be here this time next year, but what I can say is that we will face whatever lies ahead with the same dogged determination, creativity, good humour and resolve that have got us through the last eight months. Since lockdown the poster for the next Bond movie has been in the office – and its title has been the maxim that I have worked to – No Time To Die. Every time I Iooked at it made me more resolute that we should do what we can and not give up. So, thanks Daniel Craig for being my lockdown inspiration!
I am enormously proud of what Lighthouse has achieved in this period, from our own creative activity online and the artistic partnerships and collaborations we have formed, to the support we have given to other struggling arts organisations and freelancers, and the way we have gone about reopening our building in these unprecedented circumstances. I have also learned a great deal about the team that works here, about their character and resilience, from the numbers that showed up to our weekly Zoom meetings in lockdown, to the messages of support and encouragement, and the way everyone has responded to the changing demands of the business and how that has affected their own positions, it has been by turns humbling and inspirational – I couldn’t have asked for more from anyone. The entertainment world is full of uncertainties at the best of times. We often wish we had a crystal ball when determining what shows will appeal to our audiences, what will be artistically exceptional, providing those exquisite moments that move us or alter our perception of the world – life changing moments. Right now, as we contend with Lockdown 2.0, we have no idea how things will play out in the coming months, but I am certain Lighthouse will meet whatever fate throws at us head on and come out ready to go again when the curtain goes up.
Elspeth McBain, Chief Executive, Lighthouse
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CRF GRANT MAKES A WORLD OF DIFFERENCE Having been awarded the full £987,964 it applied for, Lighthouse is now able to act on its plans for the rest of the financial year. Immediately, that has meant the Christmas show (with a smidgen of panto) Happy Ever After could be announced and by the end of its first weekend on sale it had become the fastest selling opening show in Lighthouse history. Written and directed by CBeebies favourite Chris Jarvis, a long-time friend of Lighthouse, Happy Ever After is a one-hour family Christmas show in which a host of pantomime and children’s storybook characters from Jack and Genie to Humpty Dumpty and the Owl and the Pussycat, help Cinderella get to her next ball . The accent is on music and comedy with the magic made by Poolebased international lighting designer James Smith, Happy Ever After is being produced by Lighthouse specifically for these times. With the café, foyers and galleries open to the public in a limited way, and shows for socially distanced audiences going ahead in the Theatre and Cinema, there is some income being generated, but the CRF grant enables Lighthouse to commit to presenting at least 60 performances between September and April, including Happy Ever After.
the building and the staffing required for safe working measures. It also pays for the extremely successful Lighthouse: OUTSIDE season of performances outdoors and allows Lighthouse to reflate its cash reserves to ensure a level of security against any future issues. One of the conditions of funding is that the programme should reflect the national profile of ‘protected characteristics’ under the Equality Act – age, disability, gender reassignment, race, religion or belief, sex, sexual orientation, marriage and civil partnership and pregnancy and maternity and Lighthouse is committed to ensuring that under-representation by people from a BAME background at management/Board level is addressed where possible with diversity training and positive recruitment. The CRF award also covers freelance support and legal support as well as a new business plan as Lighthouse rethinks how it can deliver its programme as it works towards whatever will become our new normal.
New projection facilities for the Theatre will enable received digital content to be shown to a significantly larger audience than is possible in the Cinema and new filming equipment will mean work made or performed at Lighthouse can be live streamed, representing a real shift and a new focus for the organisation as it explores how it engages with and develops its audiences with digital content. The award covers the loss of income from shows in lockdown and the effects of running at a drastically reduced capacity since reopening, including the cost of measures taken to ensure COVID-security, as well as enabling the BSO to work, rehearse and perform in
The HandleBards’ uniquely silly take on Romeo and Juliet closed Lighthouse: OUTSIDE with a sell out. The season’s success provided great encouragement that live performance for socially distanced audiences could work, a revelation that has since been confirmed by the BSO’s euphoric return to the Concert Hall and a series of Theatre shows to restricted capacity houses.
IT’S CHRISTMAS AT LIGHTHOUSE! LIGHTHOUSE PRESENTS
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WHAT WE DID IN LOCKDOWN THE LOCKDOWN SONG
In celebration of the part popular music has played in the lives of generations of its audiences, Lighthouse commissioned Dorset-based artist Lorna Rees of Gobbledegook Theatre – who won this year’s CoronaVision 2020 song contest – to write a song about it. The song, ‘And the Floor Bounced’, performed by The Lockdown Band – Lorna, husband Adam and children Dylan and Rufus – has been watched thousands of times online and generated a flurry of physical and digital media coverage. For inspiration Lorna issued a social media call out for memories of the artists people had enjoyed at Lighthouse then wrote the lyrics around their anecdotes.
Invisible Music by Lighthouse Associate Artists Platform 4 was a digital reboot of their unforgettable live event in which film and soundscape were blended to create an immersive and intimate meditation on hearing loss. With striking projections by digital artist Barret Hodgson (Fatboy Slim, Motionhouse) and the acoustic sounds of Musical Director Pete Flood (Bellowhead, Marc Almond) and Sound Designer Jules Bushell (Kneehigh, BBC), the film describes the array of emotions that come with hearing loss, feelings that resonate more widely in lockdown.
SUPER-SPIES IN LOCKDOWN
Devised by our Associate Artists, Angel Exit Theatre, SuperSpies In Lockdown was an interactive performance game played out across two online sessions on a private, secure Zoom chat.
Not even lockdown could stem the impulse to make things so by moving creative content online Lighthouse was able to commission small pieces of work from artists affected by coronavirus.
This exclusive theatrical experience brought the action to the participants’ own homes as the newly enrolled SuperSpies and their marvellous leader Mirabel Merryweather, with newly initiated Claude Pringle, set out to solve the vital clues that would thwart their rival gang, The Vortex, and its dastardly mission to drain goodwill and positivity in the community.
One such artist, award-winning storyteller Michele O’Brien created a brilliant series of bedtime stories on video that we shared through our Facebook channel on Sunday evenings. That lead to our first ever Bedtime Story Writing Competition, presided over by respected Times critic Donald Hutera and further extended the Sunday evening series, as well as encouraging a handful of first-time storytellers to keep exploring their craft. COME TO WHERE I AM
Lighthouse connected with Paines Plough theatre company and its Come To Where I Am caller service that saw actors Fiona Wade (from Emmerdale) and Abigail Cruttenden (from TV’s Not Going Out) read Quicksand, a ten-minute play in which a 12-year-old girl walks out of school, to audiences in local care homes. Playwright Chloe Moss adapted her work so that it was set in Poole.
VIEW FROM MY WINDOW
Locked down and looking out, it struck us that most of us had probably never spent as much time just looking out of our windows as we had in lockdown. That prompted a call for submissions to an online photo gallery called View From My Window – quite simply, a set of images of the views from different people’s windows.
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Lighthouse played a part a ground-breaking new music project by hosting an exclusive online concert and new collaborative work as well as a music workshop. Making Tracks brought together emerging artists from the UK and around the world to showcase diverse music, initiate new collaborations and explore strategies for music-based environmental engagement. The eight Fellows took part in a two-week virtual residency before embarking on a digital tour that saw partner venues, including Lighthouse, share live streamed concerts and collaborative works. SOCIALLY DISTINCT
WRITER IN ABSENCE
Inspired by the return of birdsong as a consequence of lockdown, Lighthouse writer-in-residence Jack Thacker wrote and recorded a new poem, The Night Office, to represent what happens when the nightingale’s song is slowed down to suit the iconic bird’s metabolism. Jack also wrote a series of Lighthouse Under Lockdown blogs for the writer development agency ArtfulScribe.
As the world in lockdown embraced streamed cultural content from the National Theatre and RSC to individual musicians and poets, Lighthouse took to social media more than ever to stay in touch with our community and the audiences we missed so much. We launched a number of themed platforms such as Monday Memories (recalling shows, people and events from Lighthouse history), Top Tip Tuesday (ideas for all the family), Workshop Wednesdays (crafts, tutorials and demos), Thursdays were an open forum, Film Friday (streaming recommendations), Spotify Saturday (a themed playlist) and Sunday Funday (family crafts fun). JOHN GRANT
Lighthouse joined fellow members of the Music Beyond Mainstream consortium and the Music Venue Trust to participate in the #saveourvenues campaign by streaming a unique collaboration between American singer songwriter John Grant and the Royal Northern Sinfonia. The 2014 project saw John Grant paired with the 34-piece chamber orchestra and included the commissioning of four new songs from him that were released on his third album Grey Tickles, Black Pressure. The concert streamed for free with donations invited to the #saveourvenues campaign. OTHER VOICES, OTHER ROOMS
Just as Lighthouse reopened but before audiences returned to our performance spaces we hosted the Lockett-Vettese Band in a unique collaborative residency to create new music to be performed in a one-off concert recorded for broadcast as an online streaming event on 23 October. The residency is due to continue in November with special guests to be announced.
LOVE FOR LIGHTHOUSE
In common with all arts venues throughout lockdown Lighthouse faced unprecedented challenges to its very existence. Moved by our plight, former students of Poole and Parkstone Grammar Schools who have since embarked on careers in the arts came together to organise the Love For Lighthouse online benefit concert. Performing a series of songs, sketches and monologues, the various alumni made a compelling case for the role Lighthouse plays in inspiring the next generation of performers and arts professionals. So much so, the Chief Executive was moved to tears by the end. ROMANTICS ANONYMOUS
Lighthouse was a partner venue for an online sharing of Romantics Anonymous, Emma Rice’s delicious musical about the fragile love affair between a gifted chocolate maker and her socially awkward boss. Produced by Wise Children, the piece was originally intended to be premiered in the US before the pandemic struck so for one night only, a fully staged live stream came direct in all its glory from Bristol Old Vic to Lighthouse audiences at home – in the best seats in the house. Their sofas! DORSET ARTISTS EMERGENCY FUND
Lighthouse contributed funds and expertise to help found and publicise the Dorset Artists Emergency Fund for freelance creatives living and working in Dorset who experienced severe financial hardship due to the pandemic. The fund raised around £20,000 to help artists meet urgent financial needs.
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WHY I LOVE LIGHTHOUSE Helen Whelan Head of Drama, Parkstone Grammar
We are so lucky to have Lighthouse on our doorsteps. I knew it before COVID-19 shut the doors on culture, entertainment and shared experience and I feel it more than ever as we miss all of those experiences over a longer and longer period. After moving here from London in 1998 to teach in the Drama Department at Parkstone Grammar School I have enjoyed countless visits to Lighthouse. Highlights down the years have to include the stellar theatre on offer, from Forkbeard Fantasy's incredible Frankenstein, Berkoff's unforgettable Messiah, Kaos Theatre's Moll Flanders – shadow puppetry I will never unsee! More recently, Mischief Theatre's The Play That Goes Wrong, An Evening with Sir Ian McKellen and Frantic Assembly's Things I Know to Be True – I can still hear my students sobbing! So many wonderful shows in between and for so many students, their first experience of live theatre. Young people will cherish the moment they stepped foot on the stage for their Shakespeare Schools Festival dress rehearsal or workshopped with professional actors and students from other schools before performing to a live audience. Lighthouse also means so much to us as a family as our son began his love of singing with the BSYC and we have been fortunate enough to see him sing with the Bournemouth Symphony Chorus and the BSO. World class concerts in a world class concert hall. Now no family Christmas is complete without the BSO Christmas Concert! We have also heard Blackford's breath taking Pieta world premiered here. We would not have had these opportunities without Lighthouse to house such treasures. So, here’s to: the imaginations set alight; the young people inspired; the friendships made; the horizons broadened; the creative teaching supported, the talent honed, to our Lighthouse... cheers, until those doors open again. And in light of all of this a team of past students from Poole and Parkstone Grammar School and special guests set about showing our appreciation through our lockdown LoveForLighthouse concert. Matt Cuff and Jenny Armitage were the driving forces behind this benefit and more than the funds raised we wanted to show our support for you all in such difficult circumstances. I know that Jenny and Matt are two of many students who feel so grateful for the opportunities and experiences that inspired them on their own journeys as musician and actor respectively. Thank you, Lighthouse!
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SPEAKING UP Many organisations learned a great deal about themselves in lockdown and Lighthouse was no exception. Within days of closing our doors on 17 March tickets holders had donated hundreds of pounds to Lighthouse by giving us the price of their tickets for cancelled and rescheduled shows rather than accepting the refunds to which they were entitled. In just a couple of weeks that figure grew to nearly £10,000 – a clear indication of the place Lighthouse occupies in the hearts of the community.
Elspeth’s warm up interviewee.
Not only did it raise the spirits of everyone connected to the organisation but in the weeks that followed it helped boost our confidence to make our voice heard.
Other media started to respond and Lighthouse was even featured in a report on the European arm of China’s state television network, marking a spike in visits to our website and page impressions.
As the plight of the nation’s arts and culture sector became clear the media took a new interest in how venues and organisations met the challenge. A decision was made very early on that Lighthouse would speak honestly and openly about our situation, seeking to remain positive and realistic without adding to the overarching sense of anxiety. It paid off, at least in terms of our public profile, and Lighthouse featured regularly in local and regional broadcast, print and digital media before contact was made with BBC Arts Editor Will Gompertz who, at the height of lockdown, visited Poole with a crew to record an interview with Elspeth on the Theatre stage. It put Lighthouse on the Six O’Clock News alongside the RSC and Liverpool Everyman with Kim Cattrall no less as
RARE BIRD LANDS AT LIGHTHOUSE
Commissioned by Lighthouse in lockdown as a beacon of hope, an emblem of the impact of lockdown on the community, this magnificent wire sculpture now has pride of place in the main foyer.
Arts Council England asked Lighthouse to feed its experiences of lockdown to the DCMS Cultural Renewal working groups and as the sector prepared to emerge from lockdown Will Gompertz again interviewed Elspeth for the Six O’Clock News – this time alongside Andrew Lloyd Webber. Since reopening we have continued to feature regularly in the media, most notably in a feature on BBC South Today around the appearance of singer songwriter Olly Olsson in a Lighthouse: OUTSIDE show as Lighthouse continues to play a part in championing the arts on the national stage and raising the profile of culture across the wider region, Dorset and Poole in particular.
During lockdown Lighthouse staff kept in touch at weekly Zoom meetings, sharing news and views and swapping notes about cultural highlights. It was in one of those meetings that a colleague shared Paul Green’s work as featured in Grayson Perry’s Art Club on C4.
The sculpture, made by WildWire artist Paul Green, is of the osprey CJ7 that was seen worldwide by more than a million viewers during lockdown tuning in to the webcam on her nest overlooking Poole Harbour. Part of the Birds of Poole Harbour charity’s Osprey Translocation Project to establish a breeding population in Poole for the first time in 200 years, after returning to her nest in April CJ7 waited all spring and summer for her mate. He never showed up but her lofty vigil captured the hearts and minds of viewers, many of whom were discovering birding for the first time. “I was one of the thousands of local people for whom CJ7 became a symbol of hope in the darkest days of the lockdown – we were forced to live our lives remotely and somehow her story became our story,” explains Chief Executive Elspeth McBain.
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FUNDRAISING: Friends, donations and bridges built As soon as we were forced to close our doors in March, we went to work behind the scenes to raise funds through a variety of different channels. That has resulted in more than £70,000 in donations, grants from trusts and foundations and sponsorship from corporate partners, as well as income from our Friends programme and Gift Aid claims. Highlights have included more than £20,000 from customers donating their ticket refunds for cancelled shows, as well as more than £10,000 from our supporters coming forward in response to our Bridge The Gap public appeal. It’s nearly a year since the launch of Lighthouse Friends and the success of the scheme has exceeded our expectations – despite the building being closed for nearly half of that time. Since its launch, Lighthouse Friends has generated £10,470 in income, and we currently have 252 Friends in total. When we launched our Bridge The Gap appeal, we highlighted that as well as donations, our customers could also support us by becoming a Friend. This has resulted in 38 new members of the Friends scheme, highlighting the fact that people are not just joining for the benefits they receive, but also to support, and be a part of, Lighthouse. LIGHTHOUSE BUSINESS CLUB
Unfortunately, the closure stalled plans to launch a Business Club to build engagement with Lighthouse in our local business community. However, now that we are moving back to normality, we are once again looking at how we can generate corporate support through a business membership scheme. In March we secured sponsorship with The Energy Check. As well as supporting Lighthouse, they are keen to grow their reputation across the region’s business community and so will be supporting us as we launch our Business Club. Membership of the Business Club will cost £500 + VAT and in return members receive branding acknowledgement, including recognition on our website aimed at boosting their SEO credentials, as well as invites to special events that will be geared towards networking opportunities. CHRISTMAS APPEAL
Despite the resounding success of the Christmas Appeal in the last two years, we have decided not to run the appeal this year. This is partly because we feel the appeal will not have its usual impact without our pantomime audiences, but also because it would come so soon after the Bridge The Gap appeal and donor fatigue is a real risk. However, the appeal has enabled us to give the experience of live theatre to so many new people, so rest assured it will be back with a bang in 2021.
01202 280000 www.lighthousepoole.co.uk
Quarterly newsletter for Lighthouse, Poole's Centre for the Arts