Year in Review: Chris Kirkwood – A year like no other

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In all of Lincoln Drill Hall’s 128 years, I don’t think I’ve seen a year quite like this one.

2018 has been a very successful year for us in a lot of ways; we’ve hosted some of the most prestigious events and the most famous faces we’ve ever had on stage, we’ve launched new projects to support the community and we’ve taken some big risks to help more people explore the arts.

Looking back at 2018, I’m amazed at what we’ve achieved, and it’s all thanks to the many people and businesses that support us. As a not-for-profit arts centre that’s run by a charitable trust, we depend on your donations for survival and it’s always a challenge to make ends meet. With that in mind, I’d like to thank everyone who’s supported us this year – whether it’s through donations, buying tickets or even joining us for a coffee or a beer from the bar

One of the highlights of the year, for me, was the day we hosted one of this year’s BBC Proms – the only venue outside London to do so.

It was a powerful moment to hear a world-class orchestra performing a First World War music-theatre piece in a drill hall where young men who fought on the Western Front were based and I know it touched a lot of members of the audience as well.

The Great War has been commemorated in several ways throughout the last few years at Lincoln Drill Hall and it was brilliant to host such a moving series of events.

The Damned United was a major success with audiences. The play, documenting Brian Clough’s ill-fated period as manager of Leeds United, provided an audience wider than just football fans and it was very well received.

Some of the big names to have taken to the stage of the Drill Hall this year included Callaghan, Kevin Bridges, Gregg Wallace and Marcus Brigstock, but we’ve also supported a wide range of small, innovative and amazing arts groups and performance companies.

One of the most successful projects of the year was an experiment that we tried in our Autumn season; Pay What You Decide. To encourage people to try new, unusual or challenging artistic productions, we let people buy their tickets for free and then pay whatever they thought it was worth as they left.

Pay What You Decide was an enormous success, bringing bigger audiences and higher than expected takings. It was so well-received we will be bringing it back in 2019; check our spring listings guide or website for details of upcoming shows.

Of course, one of the best things about Lincoln Drill Hall is the amount of work we put into making it a venue at the heart of the community. We’ve hosted countless community events, parent and toddler groups, a vegan food festival, Lincoln Book Festival, a monthly nightclub for people with disabilities and we’ve been behind a new project funded by Children in Need; a touring disco for children with disabilities.

We’ve just lifted the curtain for our incredible new Christmas panto, Peter Pan; another wonderful production with Jamie Marcus Productions which is making headlines for its ambitious scale and for the work the team has put into making it accessible to the entire community.

I’m very proud of everything we’ve achieved in 2018, but we couldn’t have done any of it without the support of the good people of Lincoln. Now let’s make 2019 even better!