Our Chief Executive Elspeth McBain discusses the need to embrace change, partnership work and fundraising to ensure a sustainable future for Lighthouse ...


Putting on a production might seem quite straightforward from the comfort of the stalls, but the path to opening night is a long one on which all concerned must effortlessly embrace change and work with partners to create a magical, potentially life-changing, experience for the audience.

In forty years as the UK’s largest regional arts centre, change has been a constant factor at Lighthouse as it will be in the future. The planned reorganisation of local government in Dorset next year will bring new challenges as well as opportunities as Poole merges with Bournemouth and Christchurch to create one of two new unitary authorities. We are working closely with the CEOs and leaders of the local authorities to support and develop the significant creative culture that our region offers and to ensure that culture remains top of the priorities as a significant contributor to the renown of the region.

In April we saw the start of a new four-year funding cycle for Lighthouse, as one of 800 National Portfolio organisations funded by the Arts Council, as well as the beginning of a new local authority funding agreement. This core funding provides the bedrock on which we make our plans and acts as a stamp of quality from the Arts Council and Borough of Poole respectively. As such it is absolutely crucial to our on-going existence and means that in our fortieth year we can move forward with confidence.

However, to sustain Lighthouse the fundraising must continue at every level and as a charity we depend on the generosity of individuals, businesses and trusts/foundations that recognise the value of the arts to the shared community, not only in Poole but in the wider conurbation and the region beyond.

As a business with a multi million pound turnover, we are also seeking new Board members to help us realise our vision and ensure continued good governance. Expertise is particularly sought in the areas of business development, Higher Education and performing arts practice.

This is a large geographical area with many audiences seeking many different things. This summer finds Lighthouse renewing its partnership with Activate to collaborate in Inside Out Dorset, bringing extraordinary performances to extraordinary places such as Poole Quay. For the first time, we are presenting a production for Bournemouth’s Arts By the Sea Festival, bringing the brilliant Roundabout Festival back to the area.

Looking ahead we’re delighted to welcome Chris Jarvis for his first panto season in Poole. Having been synonymous with productions at Bournemouth Pavilion for many years Chris is just as thrilled to grasp a new challenge co-writing, directing and starring in a successful panto that is home grown in Poole.

Working with others is second nature in the arts and culture sector and I’m excited to see the ways in which these and other collaborations are going to develop.

Published 18 July 2018