During these unusual, unprecedented and frankly downright bizarre times, it’s a nice reminder to get back to our roots as a community touring scheme and speak to members of the Live & Local network. Previously we caught up with our friend Jenny at All Saints Church, Bradbourne and she gave us an insight into the trials and tribulations of running a venue, and that’s at the best of times! Today we’re bringing the Community Spotlight to Lesley at Pailton Village Hall. She and her Trust Committee have certainly faced hardships at their venue but have got through it as a team and a community. Over to Lesley!
We moved to Pailton 14 years ago and our introduction to rural life was in our Village Hall with Steven Steinhaus (Dr Teeth Big Band), a regular with Live & Local. He had a sell-out audience lying on the floor while he and his band stepped over us playing their music. The fun has continued since!
I was impressed. I joined the Village Trust Committee and took on the role of Promoter and later became Chairperson of a supportive, enthusiastic and fun team. That has been the key to our success in and my enjoyment of Live & Local. I’ve met loads of people and love the contact with a wide range of artists.
Each show that we host is a challenge in that we try to be creative and build the hospitality and catering around the style of the performance. So, we served Scandinavian cabbage and meatballs to the Nordic Bloc and when Dracula was performed, we ran bat making sessions and cloaks were the order of the night!
Our hall is a red-brick Victorian Reading Room. Seven years ago, we acquired a grant of European money and installed a comprehensive light and sound system and acoustic curtaining. The villagers were inspired and a team of 40 completely re-decorated the interior and boarded the stage, it was terrific. Then, four years ago, disaster! The entire interior was severely smoke-damaged and we were back to the shell of a building. It was heart-breaking especially as our pub had just shut and the village had no communal meeting space.
However, over two years later, with a stream of contractors, builders and a massive amount of time and effort by the Trust Committee, we reopened and celebrated for a whole weekend! Throughout this period John and the Live & Local team were understanding and supportive. It was a brilliant feeling when we hosted Zoe Gilby to the approval of the performers and our audience. So that was a challenge but we got through it and have come out stronger and the hall even better.
My top tip for a new promoter? Get a good team, you can’t do it by yourself! Then you can share the highs, lows, fantastic entertainment, friendship and a glass of wine when all the clearing up is done!