‘If we winter this one out, we can summer anywhere’ (Seamus Heaney)
The Lyric Theatre holds a unique position in our cultural landscape and has been at the centre of the cultural life of our community for over 50 years. Each year we draw international talent and audiences, welcoming over 100,000 visitors, and engaging with over 14,000 more through participation and outreach. We are the largest employer of freelance arts workers in Northern Ireland, with 450 freelancers working with the theatre every year. We produce up to 10 Lyric productions each year, and 5 large-scale education and outreach programmes.
Just as Covid-19 hit, we were celebrating three successful Lyric productions so far in 2020 - Kiss Me, Kate,
our co-production with NI Opera; Shirley Valentine;
and a hugely successful national school tour of our Eco project; and we had hosted many sell-out visiting shows. We were day one into rehearsals for an epic production of 1984
with our co-producing partners, Bruiser Theatre. We were also preparing for an international tour of Good Vibrations
which had been chosen to open the new Irish Arts Center New York.
We were on track to welcome a record number of audiences to the Lyric in 2020/21, having grown our audiences by +10% and by +6% in the previous two years.And then everything changed.
When we closed our doors to audiences on 17th March - the first time in the theatre’s history - we cancelled all future performances and lost £1.6million in earned income.
However, we were determined to keep the spirit of the Lyric going; to fulfil our mission to our audiences, our artists and our funders.
Despite not being able to welcome a live audience into the theatre, we have been adapting our programming and developing new work specifically for an online space.
We developed 7 major online productions
, including New Speak
, Splendid Isolation: Lockdown Drama
and Listen at the Lyric,
developing 25 new pieces of work;
We had 172,500 online audience
members (+70% than usual), many of them engaging with the Lyric for the very first time. Our website had over 50,000 visitors (+47%);
We delivered 192 outreach activities, reaching out to communities and young people;
We diversified our Creative Learning projects for online and VR;
We engaged with 935 young people;
We delivered 130+ hours of training and workshops;
We welcomed 19 new Lyric Drama Studio recruits;
We launched our New Playwrights Programme;
We received recognition for our work - through The Irish Times Theatre Awards, and a nomination for Best Drama for Splendid Isolation
at the Royal Television Society awards.
We have also fought really hard for the entire arts and culture sector. We used the might of the Lyric (and our patrons!) to help achieve change, to secure funding and support, and to lobby for our sector.
None of this could have been achieved without your help - you, our audiences, our artists, our funders and our team. You have supported us all the way.
From the bottom of our hears, THANK YOU.
The Lyric is your theatre.
You have helped us winter this one out.