General Manager
Leeds Grand Theatre

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Ian S

00:00:03 My name’s Ian S, and I’m General Manager of the Grand Theatre and Opera House here in Leeds. Personally I’m involved in the actual booking of products into the show – into the theatre, and it’s negotiating the right deal and making sure that the people of Leeds can actually enjoy top quality entertainment here in their local theatre.

00:00:25 Truly one of the greatest parts of the day – of an evening’s actually standing at the very, very front of the auditorium, actually looking at the entire house which is completely full. And you know that’s great – it’s a great privilege.

00:00:38 My first job was actually in banking, and I was working in Edinburgh. And in Edinburgh at the time there was – there still is – a very special theatre called The Playhouse. And The Edinburgh Playhouse at the time was the number one rock venue for the – for Scotland, and I really wanted to work in that venue so – one way or another I actually got a job there. Initially I was still working in – working in the bank, and I actually initially took a – or managed to secure a part-time job, working as a DJ, in the night club attached to the theatre. I was working during the day- time 9 to 5, then as – got home, got changed, then packed my record bags and I was down – down at the theatre. And it was just tremendous. It was a wonderful double-life for – for a long period of time.

00:01:34 I had to go and wait for an opportunity, and eventually I became aware of something within – my company owned the Liverpool Empire and – so yes, I was offered an opportunity, had to leave straightaway. And did so. And I’m very glad I made the move.

00:01:54 I kind of knew from the very first day that I actually worked in Edinburgh that that was a perfect moment. Now I couldn’t really imagine doing anything else, even though I’ve actually worked at a lot of other theatres, it’s an industry which I love and you know it’s a passion, and a total vocation, so I’m very lucky to be working here.

00:02:15 When I was 6 years old what did I want – I wanted to be a rock star, tell me anybody that didn’t. I think I learnt pretty young that I had a level of interest in that scope, but I decided very, very early on that I did not want to be a performer. I had good fun at school. The punk movement had just started, and of course I was as interested in everything which was happening with the Pistols and the Clash. But equally the disco was happening at the time, and I just loved it all, and probably had too many other interests, rather than just going through my exams.

00:02:53 I realised that I probably wouldn’t have been the best candidate to go to University, and I had an opportunity of actually working in a bank. And it seemed like a great opportunity at the time, although I knew within heart of hearts that it wasn’t going to be the final job I was going to do, it was the first road – first foot on the road.

00:03:20 I would like to remain here for the next few years, to actually see the theatre progress and flourish and become even more successful, and I think to be General Manager in this particular theatre is a pretty good goal. I love being here, and I wouldn’t be doing it unless I was really happy doing it.

00:03:43 Sure there are other things to do and, you know, and I guess in many ways I would still like to go and put the rucksack on and travel round the world, which I’ve never done. That would be fun but, you know, I get so – there are so many interesting things that actually are still happening here that I think my adventures are actually here in Leeds.

00:04:00 ENDS


Ian is General Manager of the Leeds Grand Theatre but started out working in a bank in Edinburgh. Music was always a passion and he used to work part-time as a DJ after he had finished work. “One of the greatest parts of the day…. is standing at the very front of the auditorium, actually looking at the entire house… it’s a great privilege”.

More information about Arts officers, producers and directors

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The UK average salary is £29,813

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There are 37.5 hours in the average working week

42%  male 
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The UK workforce is 47% female and 53% male

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? Arts officers, producers and directors assume creative, financial and organisational responsibilities in the production and direction of television and radio programmes, films, stage presentations, content for other media, and the promotion and exhibition of other creative activities.
Entry can be via academic qualifications, BTEC/SQA awards, diplomas or degrees in sector-relevant subjects. Apprenticeships are available at NVQ Levels 2 and 3 in some areas.
  • Chooses writers, scripts, technical staff and performers, and assumes overall responsibility for completion of project on time and within budget;
  • Directs actors, designers, camera team, sound crew and other production and technical staff to achieve desired effects;
  • Breaks script into scenes and formulates a shooting schedule that will be most economical in terms of time, location and sets;
  • Prepares rehearsal and production schedule for main events, design of sets and costumes, technical rehearsals and dress rehearsals;
  • Ensures necessary equipment, props, performers and technical staff are on set when required;
  • Manages health and safety issues;
  • Selects, contracts, markets and arranges for the presentation and/or distribution of performance, visual and heritage arts.
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