In a new feature we get Up Close and personal with some of the people that help make the region tick. This month we chat to Nick Reed the lovely new chief executive of Town Hall Symphony Hall
BEEN THERE, DONE THAT
I have worked in theatre and concert hall management my whole life after leaving Sheffield University in 1984 with a politics degree. When I started it was very much get in on the ground floor and get experience. A politics degree doesn’t really help you navigate employment law in South Carolina or deal with prima donna soap stars in Llandudno. I have managed some great venues but coming back to the city where I grew up is a particular pleasure.
IT’S WHAT I DO
As chief executive of Performances Birmingham Ltd, the charity responsible for managing Symphony Hall and Town Hall, I am responsible for the artistic direction and commercial management of a business with a £13million turnover and more than 70 permanent staff.
WHAT I’D LIKE TO SEE
Birmingham is one of the youngest, most diverse cities in the UK and we need to reflect that in both the audiences we attract and the artists that we work with. Despite welcoming more than half-a-million visitors a year there are still many people in the region who haven’t yet enjoyed a life-changing performance in our buildings – whether that be a concert in one of our halls, a free gig in our foyers or taking part in our community and education programmes.
I’ve taken some pride in opening a couple of new venues – moving from a building site to a sold-out first performance is always an invigorating journey. I’m not sure that I regard myself as personally successful but if pushed I’d cite running the length of the Thames self-supported as my least mediocre achievement.
BIGGEST LESSON LEARNED
Despite a career in the arts I wish I had paid a bit more attention to science at school. A basic understanding of electricity is very helpful if you own a 43-year-old Italian car!
WHAT I LIKE ABOUT BRUM
A lot of things have changed since I moved away from Birmingham in 1980 but most of that change has been for the better. There’s now a really vibrant cultural scene with amazing theatre, dance and music being made in the city. There is a sense of pride when people describe the rebirth of New Street station and the Paradise redevelopment will further enhance the city as great place to live and work.
I’m a long distance runner, the longer the better. I enjoy getting out running in the hills for a few hours, but even half-an-hour by the canal is better than nothing. This year I’m running a 100-miler in the Lake District and a mountain race around Mont Blanc in August. Also a week of cycle touring in Romania, so I need to get back in the saddle. I also enjoy tinkering with old vehicles and have a couple of classic cars and some old motorcycles and scooters. It is easy to lose a few hours in the garage tweaking a carburettor from ‘acceptable’ to ‘barely functioning’…
On 12 June Symphony Hall celebrates its 25th birthday with a day of music and free activities for the whole family. Find out more at www.thsh.co.uk and come and join us!