Today Nick Giles announces that he will step down as Director of Shoreditch Town Hall, leaving at the end of March after five and a half years leading the organisation. He will take a break before pursuing new consulting and leadership opportunities in the arts and third sector. He will also remain an Associate Director and Trustee of Shoreditch Town Hall.
Nick Giles said today, “Shoreditch Town Hall is a remarkable building and it has been both thrilling and a huge privilege to have been able to continue its restoration over the past five years as well as lead it into exciting, new territory as a vibrant arts space. It’s been especially rewarding to welcome thousands of audiences to the building to experience the artistic and participation programmes we’ve built here since I joined, especially those from our local community who previously had no reason to come through our doors. This has always been a very personal project, to realise the building’s full potential – artistic, creative and financial - but as is always the case with challenging projects, it has been a team effort. I have been fortunate to be surrounded by a talented, hugely dedicated group of co-workers and collaborators, as well as supporters, artists, clients, stakeholders and our community who have not just enthusiastically embraced the Town Hall during my years here, but have been fundamental to getting us to where we are. I know I am leaving the building in safe hands and with people who will continue to keep exploring and striving, as I hope I have done, to find new and exciting ways for the building to come alive. And above all, during its 150th anniversary year, to ensure that it is still here to be enjoyed and reinvented by future generations, as a continuing, vital part of London’s cultural landscape and of Shoreditch and Hackney life.”
Stephen Robertson, Chair of The Trustees, said “Nick’s tenure at STH has been literally transformative. His vision, passion and total dedication has moved this historic venue well and truly into the 21st century whilst enhancing the links with its historic past and the surrounding community. The breadth, diversity and quality of the artistic programme has allowed the venue to carve a distinctive place for itself in London; capacity is at record levels and average turnover has almost trebled in just 5 years. Nick, and the team under his watch, have delivered more than any of us might have imagined in our wildest dreams. We know that Nick is excited about the next chapters in his career and are delighted that he will remain an Associate Director and active Trustee going forward.”
Over the past five years Shoreditch Town Hall has been transformed into a key off-West End arts space and flagship live events venue for Hackney. Raising and investing £2.8m funding into capital works and the artistic programme, Giles has enabled the building to operate fully as a theatre and live events venue for the first time since the late 1960s. This has included bringing the Assembly Hall back to its full 800 audience capacity – one of the last large-scale Victorian music hall auditoria remaining in the East End – as well as establishing the warren of basement spaces as a home for immersive, site specific performance.
As a result, since the arts programme was established at Shoreditch Town Hall the venue has welcomed 96,000 audiences and participants through its doors – a significant proportion of which have come from the local area and the vast majority first time visitors. It has included 190 productions, 18 new commissions and supported work, and 40 premières. Turnover has increased from an average of £340,000 five years ago to £1.1m today, and building occupancy, once just 15-20%, is now 80% of available capacity.
As the venue has never received revenue funding from either Arts Council, England or London Borough of Hackney, Giles has established a predominantly self-funding model underpinned by an expanded commercial events business, including bringing in the now Michelin starred Clove Club as a tenant. This model allows the venue to support 85-90% of its core running costs and has funded, along with investment raised for projects, the development of the arts and community programmes.
A core aspect of the venue’s artistic work throughout Nick’s time at the venue has been supporting and investing in artists – theatre and performance makers in particular – to develop and present original, imaginative new work in the building’s numerous non-traditional theatre spaces. This has ranged from full commissions and financial investment, to mentoring, free or subsided rehearsal space and production / R&D time. Since 2013 this has placed artists at the centre of the venue’s creative work, with 80-100 artists and companies supported every year, ensuring up to 80% of the presented programme is made up of work Shoreditch Town Hall has either invested in or supported.
Jamie Lloyd, whose current Philip Ridley double-bill is running in the basement of Shoreditch Town Hall, said of Giles, “Nick has achieved something truly remarkable at Shoreditch Town Hall. Starting from scratch, he has turned the building into a dynamic crucible of creativity. Never have I felt so free and so nurtured when creating work. Nick and his staff are energised and dedicated; they allow your imagination to flourish and give you the confidence to explore new territory. Nick has created an environment in which you can truly thrive and push the limits of your practice as an artist."
Recent artistic commissions under Giles’s leadership have included The Wardrobe Ensemble’s 1972: THE FUTURE OF SEX, SLEEPLESS from Analogue, and Ross Sutherland’s PARTY TRAP. Immersive or site sensitive new projects include the current double-bill of Philip Ridley’s THE PITCHFORK DISNEY and KILLER, directed by Jamie Lloyd, and recent productions of dreamthinkspeak’s ABSENT, Nigel Barrett & Louise Mari’s PARTY SKILLS FOR THE END OF THE WORLD and One Tenth Human & China Plate’s WE’RE STUCK! In the past two years the programme has included new work from Kneehigh, Andrew Schneider, Spymonkey, RSC, Greg Wohead, Toot, Verity Standen, Upstart Theatre, Jonny Woo, On The Run, Ira Brand, Gillie Kleiman, Gary McNair, Vincent Dance Theatre and Curious Directive.
Giles notified the board of his intention to step down in the latter part of 2016, and a further statement regarding his successor will be made in the coming weeks.