Going Places: Lauren Clancy (The Bush, Executive Director)

Going Places: Lauren Clancy (Executive Director, the Bush Theatre)

Lauren Clancy. Photo by Bronwen Sharp
Lauren Clancy. Photo by Bronwen Sharp

Lauren Clancy, the new Executive Director of the Bush Theatre, talks to us about her first few months in the role, why she was the right women for the job and what the Bush means to her.

Date Published: 12 February 2018

You have been a member of the Bush team for 4 years now. What do you think you will particularly take for your time in the Marketing Department at The Bush into your new role as Executive Director?

Now, more than ever, ‘the Bush Theatre is yours’.

I’ve been on a real journey with the Bush, which until now was centered around the landmark redevelopment project that we completed last year. When I joined the theatre over four years ago, we were already preparing for this project and I did a lot of work around how to articulate this one-in-a-lifetime project to our stakeholders.

Lots of my job now includes advocacy for what we do and our role in society, growing our reach and ensuring sustainability - all areas that I believe will benefit from my knowledge of our audiences.

I’m lucky that the team shares my passion and that audiences are at the forefront of our thinking.

I believe that theatre is made in that special moment when an audience gathers and meets a play for the first time - a moment that renews night after night. In that sense, the audience is of paramount importance as theatre doesn’t exist without them.

What appealed to you about this role, as opposed to moving on to a Marketing role at a different venue for example?

It was the opportunity to expand on the work I’ve been doing at a venue I love that propelled me to interview and ultimately got me the job. I loved connecting people to theatre and championing for its importance.

The Bush has always punched above its weight and its influence can be felt internationally as well as locally. I want to amplify the messages behind all the fantastic things that the Bush does and use them to bring about change: inspiring change within the industry is fantastic but, ultimately, the chance to affect social, cultural and political change is what gets me out of bed in the morning.    

Can you tell us about your plans to continue work with your Local Authority following the recent redevelopment of The Bush?

The Bush is proud of its Shepherd’s Bush roots and has been producing groundbreaking new plays in the area for over 45 years. We started life above a pub just around the corner back in 1972.

Before my time, the local authority was instrumental in affording us the use of our current home - the former Shepherd’s Bush Library - and supported the most recent phase of our renovation. We will continue to work together because of our strong roots in the community. We’re not just a theatre company - we’re a public building too.

It’s also exciting to be a part of a local landscape rich with culture. Our neighbours include the fantastic Lyric Hammersmith, independent music venue Bush Hall, Shepherd’s Bush Empire, as well as companies like Dance West, Amici Theatre Company and many more. Together with the local authority, we can work together to cement Hammersmith and Fulham as a destination for arts and culture, bringing more people to the area, which has a knock-on effect on other areas, like local business.

The Bush has a reputation for bold, contemporary theatre with a strong community voice. What are you most excited about / looking forward to?

I probably say this every year but our 2018 season is really special. As with all of the work in Madani Younis’ tenure, this season showcases the best new work from voices that see the world from diverse points of view and consider things that matter, now.

What are the biggest challenges in your new role?

We’re a small team with a mighty mission, so I think that is my greatest challenge: delivering everything we want to deliver on limited resources.

Each year, we present 10 brand new plays, read and feedback on 1000 scripts, facilitate a large number of talent development schemes and run an ambitious community department that produces projects and workshops for over 1000 local people.

And we’ve got loads more ideas of things we want to do to bring about change across the sector. Finding the time and resources to deliver all that within the current climate of funding challenges and political uncertainly is a universal difficulty.

What is your favourite thing about the new role?

Without doubt, my favourite thing about being Executive Director at the Bush Theatre is the people I get to work with. They’re an incredibly talented bunch who are passionate about what we do. There’s nothing more energising.

UK Theatre members, click here to read Communicating Value and Building Stakeholders: The Bush, 45 years in the makinga case study by Jon Gilchrist (former Executive Director of the Bush) for UK Theatre, part of our Working with Local Authorities series.

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