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16 July 2018 at 4:03 pm

The realities of running a not-for-profit venue

Article Author:
Edward Dixon

The realities of running a not-for-profit venue


Every year, more than 100,000 people come to Lincoln Drill Hall to see one of the 300 performances we host here in the heart of Lincoln city centre.

We routinely support local, homegrown talent with small-scale productions, we host major national touring shows, we have regular music gigs and live comedy and we host a wide range of participation groups for the community and a club night – The Butterfly Club for people with disabilities. As well as all this, we’re proud to host landmark events which put Lincoln on the map – this month we’re making history by becoming only the second venue outside London to ever host a BBC Prom.

But, while the audience sees the glitz and glamour of the show, there’s a whole other world behind the scenes of this 128-year-old Lincoln institution.


Setting the scene

When people come through our doors to see a show, concert or meet with friends, we do our best to ensure that you have an amazing experience, from a friendly welcome and service to high quality performers entertaining you. Our aim is that you head home encouraged to think differently about things, eager to experience more shows and, above all, we hope you’re entertained.  

While we endeavour to be an exceptional arts centre, a lot of people don’t even know that we’re a charity and we sometimes struggle to express just how much we need and appreciate your help.

You’ve probably never considered where your ticket money goes. Last year our average ticket price was approximately £12. If we were to sell out every one of our tickets every year at that price, we’d make a maximum of £400,000 per year. That’s after we’ve paid the artists performing the work. While that sounds like a healthy revenue, our costs amount to more than £700,000 per year.


So how do we balance the books?

As a registered charity, we rely on a range of places for our income. Roughly one third of our funding comes from public funding, primarily from the City of Lincoln Council and Arts Council England. Since 2013 though, pressures on the City Council budget means that the funding the Council can invest is falling every year. After ticket sales are accounted for, that leaves a funding gap of up to £100,000 a year which we can only cover through fundraising activities and donations from the public. This gap is getting bigger every year.

At the moment, for every pound you donate to Lincoln Drill Hall, the Arts Council will match it through a scheme called Catalyst Evolve, but it’s still a huge sum of money which we’d need to raise and it’s only possible with help from our supporters.


Doing the impossible

Over the coming months, we’ll continue to do the impossible. We’ll continue hosting groundbreaking performances, supporting brand new talent, hosting one-of-a-kind opportunities, and events that appeal to the whole community and we’ll welcome you to our cafe and bar as a relaxing place to get away from it all.

When you visit, we’ll strive to give you a first-class experience from the minute you step into our courtyard. We’ll keep pushing boundaries and we’ll keep bringing first class, high quality arts and entertainment to Lincoln.

But here on this blog, we’ll continue giving you glimpses behind the scenes and we hope that you’ll enjoy it and learn more about who we are. We’ll introduce you to the people, the productions and the pressures that make it all possible so that you can see the realities of running a not-for-profit arts centre.