SPEAKING at a Hull Digital meeting last week, Martin Green the new Chief Executive of the Hull Culture Company and the man tasked with delivering Hull, the UK City of Culture 2017, outlined his developing vision for creating a phenomenal occasion in the city’s history which potentially he said ‘will inspire confidence, aspiration and hope in a generation’ of young people in the city and even help transform lives! It was a giddy and exciting presentation from Mr Green whose practical ‘realisation’ of Hull as the UK City of Culture – making it happen – will be watched closely by one Hedon man.
Steve Gallant from Ivy Lane Hedon has just been appointed as a Board Member of Hull Truck Theatre at a crucial time in the run up to 2017; Hull Truck is to take the lead role in delivering ‘Drama’ for Hull 2017 and the organisation has been looking closely at the skills and expertise it needs to deliver what is required.
Steve, who has recently taken early retirement after a busy and illustrious 30-year career in the music and home entertainment industry, has been invited to join the Hull Truck Board to be able to pass on the benefits of his experience particularly in managing the commercial side of the entertainment business.
Starting as a sales assistant at Our Price records, after leaving university in 1981, Steve’s career took him to the heights of the music industry dealing with artists, record companies, distributors, record/CD/DVD sales, industry-related brands and merchandising. Having worked his way up to Buying Manager at Our Price, Steve acquired the skills and knowledge that led to him working for Universal Music as a Commercial Director, a Product Director at HMV, a Publishing Director and then Home Entertainment and Digital Director at ITV amongst other well-known companies. He has also mixed with some very famous ‘talent’ (U2, ABBA, Meatloaf, Siouxsie and the Banshees, etc, etc), as part of negotiating deals; managing the relationship with artists being just as important as the one between businesses.
Despite a career that has seen him travel across the world, part of Steve’s retirement plan was always to come back to live in East Yorkshire and he was delighted to find a house in Hedon in 2011, the town he lived in before leaving home in 1977 and also where his family lived nearby. Although it wasn’t quite ‘retirement’ because Steve still offered his services as a consultant via his ‘Metal Guru ‘ consultancy – the name is a reference to the No.1 song written by Mark Bolan of T.Rex. As a consultant he has helped change the fortunes of ASDA’s home entertainment strategy and also advised on a theatrical production about Marc Bolan’s life.
Retirement means that Steve has time to concentrate on things he wants to do – he’s re-ignited his passion for politics having studied the subject as part of his university days. And now the offer has come to invest some of his time with Hull Truck.
So what is Steve hoping to bring to his role as a Hull Truck Board Member?
“I was invited to apply for the position because of my commercial experience in the entertainment business. The record industry works by continually investing in new music and talent, but that is paid for out of the sales and merchandising of the existing material – the commercial side allows the creative side to continue – and it’s by using that commercial experience that I hope to be able to help Hull Truck. The Board will have sub-committees looking at all aspects of the operation and the commercial side will be the focus of one of those.
“The theatre itself is a great asset and it’s important that it’s used to its full capacity – that all spaces are used and not have any ‘dark days’ (when nothing is on). But it’s more than the building, it’s looking at where the theatre can get out into the community and schools to promote what they do and build new audiences. Hull and the East Riding also has a thriving amateur dramatic sector comprising thousands of people who enthusiastically produce work of a high quality – actively connecting with that sector is important.
“We also need to tap into other commercial activity taking place and planned in the region and build relationships between those who can sponsor drama and the theatre and those who can deliver it. My connections and contacts in the industry will be useful in helping to create new relationships around which things can happen.”
Last week Martin Green was selling the idea of the exciting things that could happen when ‘Arts meets Digital’ or when ‘Arts meets Sport” – locally Steve Gallant is helping to explore with Hull Truck the potential benefits that can result when ‘Arts meets Commercial’; it’s good to know that we have someone from Hedon who – via Hull Truck – will be in the thick of things when it comes to helping shape aspects of the UK City of Culture!