Information for Students



We remember what it was like to be a curious student in need of some inside information. So we’ve put together a handy set of answers to the questions that we are frequently asked by students for their studies. We hope this helps.

Visit our Career Profiles page for advice on how to get started working in the arts.

When was the Centre first opened?

Lighthouse opened in 1978 as Poole Arts Centre as a response to the lack of cultural facilities in the area. As local competition increased in the later part of the 80s and early 90s the venue looked to development and in the new millennium it secured Lottery funding and re-launched as Lighthouse, Poole’s Centre for the Arts. Discover more about us in Our Story

What makes Lighthouse distinctive?

We are the largest regional arts centre in the UK. As a unique multi-space arts venue we offer a vast range of professional theatre, dance, film, music, visual arts, literature, contemporary circus, comedy and light entertainment to audiences across all age groups.  This extraordinary mix of events cannot be experienced elsewhere in the region all under one roof.

We support and enable the creation of work and artist development and provide a home for the region’s orchestra, BSO. As a registered charity, every penny Lighthouse receives makes a difference, helping us to bring  outstanding performances to Poole,  enables the creation  of new work,  supports emerging artists, offer the best facilities to our artists and audiences and help expand our learning and participation programme with schools and communities, 

How do I get work experience at Lighthouse?

We are committed to offering experience to people keen to explore a career in the arts. We offer a unique training ground in all aspects of venue operations and arts administration. Please visit Jobs and Volunteering for more information on opportunities at Lighthouse, including our new Student Ambassador scheme, and how to apply.

What types of jobs are there at an arts centre like Lighthouse?

Lighthouse employ 126 people, most of the full time jobs are in Finance, Administration, HR, Marketing, Events, Ticket Office and Technical and Stage Door; a large amount of part time and casual staff work front of house as hosts, technicians and bar and café staff. Explore our Department Profiles to find out about all the different teams that make up Lighthouse.

Where do you get your funding from?

Lighthouse is a charity and receives funding from Arts Council England, Borough of Poole. The rest of the money we rely on comes from ticket sales and as a charity we are always looking for further support. Discover more about our charitable activity

What is your artistic strategy?

Our artistic strategy set out our 80/20 vision.

80% of our programme is received work that we actively manage, to provide a broad creative programme of high
quality work.

20% of our programme is now produced or enabled by us to ensure that we are delivering the work our audiences and artists need us to.

Lighthouse strive to provide a variety of dance, drama, comedy, opera, film, music and visual arts to appeal to our wide audience.

Do you have any other rooms in the Arts Centre that are available for hire?

Our programme is primarily focussed on the arts, however, in order to support the great work that happens on our stages, we need to generate income from additional sources. Hiring space at Lighthouse for private functions and events provides valuable income a Explore more about our Venue Hire facilities and services.

What partnerships does Lighthouse have?

Part of our strategy is to provide opportunities for our immediate and wider communities to experience and participate in high quality professional artistic events that become a focus for the celebration and coming together of local communities. The Olympic project Coastal Voices and our annual Big Sing event are prime examples of our approach, where more than 20,000 people sang, watched or listened to four new commissions created for and sung by their own community.

Lighthouse supports and collaborates with many South West theatre, dance and music organisations and venues. We work closely with Soundstorm the lead partner in our Music Education Hub, and are an active associates of Dorset Arts Trust  bringing together 80 individuals and organisations in a pan Dorset group providing resilience and sustainability through networking.

We are connected to regional and national touring networks, including Dance Touring Partnership, Music Beyond the
Mainstream, PASS (Interreg project), Circus Evolution, Making Tracks, and HOUSE.

Working internationally as one of eight UK and French partners on the PASS contemporary circus project has developed Lighthouse as a dynamic initiator of work as commissioner and co-producer resourcing ten company residencies to create new work which will be exported to Europe and toured in the UK. This has developed the sector and has demonstrated a need and market to continue such work.

How do you work with young people?

Delivering artist-led projects enables us to build stronger relationships, deliver creative projects, develop formal and informal learning strands and encourage personal development. Young people  benefit from this approach through:

• Residencies, master classes, workshops.
• PASS/Circus Family Fun Day.
• Building professional practice in a real arts setting.
• Performing in a professional space.
• Indie South West: supporting young film makers.
• Access to a diverse live arts programme:
• Youth dance/theatre.
• Pre and post show talks with artists and directors
• Backstage, technical and building tours for schools and families
• Internships, placements, exchanges and secondments.

How do you attract audiences?

Lighthouse has a database of patrons that we mail and email regularly. However, we are always looking to attract new audiences. We produce a season brochure three times a year and we advertise across a wide range of media in the region. We regularly use outdoor advertising, press and radio to promote our shows. Where possible we target specific audiences with shows that might be relevant to them and devise special promotions to encourage audiences to try new things. Word of mouth is also a powerful tool.

How do you programme shows?

Lighthouse have a team of programmers, full time, part time and freelance. The programmers meet once a month to discuss the companies who have sent information about their touring shows. These people liaise with the companies coming in and arrange dates, times, prices and other requirements. It is the Programmer’s role to proactively seek and secure arts programme content, working to achieve a balanced programme which represents our mission and values, and in relation to other local arts provision.

Wherever possible they get out and about seeing work, predominately at Festivals, both in the UK and abroad some of which they hope to present here in Poole. An important part of what they do is developing and nurturing relationships with resident artists, visiting companies and local arts development agencies.



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