Spotlight turns on Rasen hall refurb

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A £5,000 investment in a new lighting system means the Festival Hall can become the heart of entertainment in Market Rasen.

Much of the existing lighting has been in place since the hall was built more than four decades ago.

With technology moving a pace, the system was not suitable for many of the modern day theatre groups.

“The investment is very worthwhile in the terms of payback,” said Nicola Marshall, who is heading up the Festival Hall refurbishment project.

“We now have safe, industry-standard equipment, which means we can welcome touring theatre companies and groups to the town and they can just plug their equipment in and away they go.”

Helping make sure the most versatile equipment has been installed were Gail Dennis and Bill Bartlett, who have both volunteered their expertise for the hall project.

Gail is an experienced member of a number of theatrical touring companies and Bill is a part of the accomplished technical team at The Broadbent Theatre in Wickenby.

“The new lighting system means the whole of the stage can now be properly lit, whereas before the back of the stage was in darkness,” said Gail.

“There is now a much better range of lighting available, which will be sympathetic to a range of shows.”

Ms Marshall has described the time both Gail and Bill have put in to the project as invaluable.

“Without Bill volunteering his expert knowledge in setting out what was needed, the project would have cost significantly more,” she said.

“We really couldn’t have done it without him.

“Gail was the catalyst for the new lights and between them they have provided us with something that will open up the venue to much wider use.”

And Bill was delighted to be able to offer his time.

“I feel some affinity with Market Rasen as I was a pupil at De Aston, so I was happy to help out,” he said.

The lights will be used for the first time at the upcoming Talent Showcase, being organised by Market Rasen Lions on October 1.

They will also come into use for entertainment which will coincide with the town’s Christmas light switch on event, on December 9.

It is planned that there will be entertainment in the Festival Hall, with the lighting event in the market place and also involving the town businesses.

Before that though, the hall will be alive with music on November 19 for a folk/rock evening.

The featured artist will be Kelly Oliver, with guests Minnie Birch and E R Thorpe.

“This is another exciting event for the town being organised by a volunteer,” said Ms Marshall.

“It will be a fantastic showcase for the venue, so we hope it is well supported.

As reported earlier this year, the town council is preparing to bid for more than £400,000 in grant funding to refurbish the building.

Ms Marshall was appointed as a business associate to specifically organise events and promote the hall as a multi-use venue.

So far, there has been wrestling, tea dances and theatre productions.

A successful hall open day gave a flavour of the many clubs and groups that use the hall on a regular basis too.

It is part of a plan to prove the hall is essential to the town - in order to qualify for grants to fund the extensive work the building needs.

Ms Marshall said: “This year is all about increasing activity and attendance at the Festival Hall so that we can demonstrate the real need for this venue in our town.”