Meet the Team

Blackfriars Theatre and Arts Centre is run by a dedicated team of Volunteers, a Board of Trustees and a handful of team members - find out more about them all below.

 

The Board of Trustees

Blackfriars Board is currently made up of 9 Trustees who meet on a monthly basis to discuss the general running and future of Blackfriars Theatre and Arts Centre.  The board are always open to comments or feedback from Blackfriars members and customers and can be reached via email to director@blackfriarsartscentre.co.uk.

 

Stuart Bull – Chair of the Board – 2008 - current

Stuart is a retired GP who became involved with Blackfriars in the mid-1990’s. As a schoolboy in the 1960s, and during his student days, he was keen on amateur dramatics as well as Gilbert and Sullivan. Once qualified, the pressure of NHS work, (and soon afterwards marriage, family and mortgage), made AmDram impossible. However, when in 1996, he saw an article in the Boston Standard about an Operatic Society production of his favourite G&S show, The Pirates of Penzance, at Blackfriars, he decided to have one last fling.  Once the spark had been re-ignited, the flame burned strongly again and he became more and more heavily involved as the years passed. When Blackfriars Theatre was closed in 2008, Stuart was one of the organisers of the efforts to keep the theatre open – inevitably he became a Trustee, and later Chairman, of the Blackfriars Trust.

Never a businessman, he gives all the credit for the relative success of the past few years to the team around him – he is just happy that he has managed to help keep this beautiful little theatre alive and to be able to see a new generation of youngsters treading the boards and falling in love with the most absorbing hobby of all – theatre in all its glory!

Robert Barclay - Trustee - 2013 - current

Rob started his career in financial services with Aviva in 2003 working on the reattribution of inherited estates. He has since had several roles in the industry and now specialises in Mortgages and Commercial Finance and Insurance, as well as Estate Planning for Fortis Financial Ltd.

Rob is a trustee of several local charities including Blackfriars Arts Centre and the Boston Grammar School Foundation. Rob was born in Boston and is passionate about making the town a great place to live.

 

 

Paul Gibson - Vice Chair

Paul is a retired BBC engineer and first joined Blackfriars to help set up the cinema and acted as projectionist for several years. He joined the original action group to save the theatre and became one of the original board members, recently becoming vice chairman.

Paul is also a member of Boston Playgoers and has managed the sound and lighting for many a Playgoers performance here at Blackfriars Theatre. 

As well as his interest in theatre, TV and Film Paul also likes to travel around the UK and Europe.  

 

David Grant - Trustee - 2013 - current

David is one of the more recent members of the Blackfriars board - although that said he has now clocked up a good 7 years as the dedicated show programmer.  David is passionate about providing 'LIVE' theatre to the people of Boston and has been key in building the varied programme of shows we have become accustomed too - ranging from Musical Theatre, Opera, Ballet and Comedy to the serious dramas and the fabulous Pantaloon's. 

David is probably best known as a sucessful local farmer and can still be found manning the Combines during harvest season despite suposedly retiring recently! Other than a love for theatre his other passions include Rugby and Cricket. 

 

John Jackson - Trustee

More often that not John is found behind Audrey's Bar here at Blackfriars and has been the licencee for several years.  

Having been involved with Blackfriars for many years John is a regular face around the building and more often than not can also be found tinkering away in the office when he is not away on business. 

John also has a passion for Art which he shared with his late wife Sam - who was also a well known face around Blackfriars and designed our current logo.  John has been an integral part in the re-implementation of our foyer gallery here at Blackfriars. 

 

 

Abby Johnson - Trustee - 2008- current

Having spent her entire career as a professional singer and actress, over a span of 60 years this has included time as a soloist with the D’Oyly Carte Opera Company – West End musicals Vanity Fair, Ride Ride, and 42nd Street, and television - Candid Camera ITV, Coronation Street, Play for Today “Jack Point” BBC, Moody and Pegg Thames TV ‘ and finally as the original Robin, Kermit’s irritating nephew in the Muppet Show. Filling in with Summer seasons and Pantomimes alongside, Ken Dodd, Keith Harris and Orville, Barbara Windsor, Ronnie Hillton, The Grumbleweeds and Charlie Williams, finally ending up as a Classical Singer for P&O Cruises.

A life full of laughter and happiness and all due to one tiny little theatre called MADS in her small home town of Macclesfield; encouraged and nurtured by wonderful teachers they led Abby into a world she had never dreamed of, being born into a very boring family of chemists!!

This is why Abby passionately believes in Blackfriars and everything we achieve in our little theatre – if people learn to love and appreciate live theatre and any child from our wonderful Academy goes on to do the same as her, it has all been worth the effort to keep the doors open. 

 

Adrian Reed – Trustee - 2020 – current 

Upon retiring from teaching after 36 years in education and being involved in leading several local primary and secondary schools around Boston, Adrian became a volunteer for Blackfriars Arts Centre and a member of the Board of Directors in 2020.

Beginning his career as a teacher of music and drama he is passionate about the arts and musical theatre – especially engaging young people to enable them to explore and develop their talents, gain team and social skills and form friendships that will last a lifetime.  It is for that reason that he was especially delighted to become the representative on the board to support the Blackfriars Theatre Academy.  With its talented and dedicated team of staff and enthusiastic members between four and twenty years of age he looks forward to supporting the performers and audiences of the future.

 

Annette Stewart - Finance Director - 2020 - current

Born in Boston, Annette is a chartered accountant, working for Duncan and Toplis in the Boston office for a number of years.  She is passionate about her home town and how she can help to sustain and develop the gems that we have. 

Annette’s involvement with Blackfriars has grown since her children began attending the Blackfriars Theatre Academy, which they love. 

Initially a member of BOSMTG she was approached to take on the role of their treasurer following the retirement of the incumbent.  He was also the finance director for Blackfriars and so Annette was also approached to assist with the finances for the theatre - With some big shoes to fill Annette hopes she has been a successful replacement.  Annette admits it's been a steep learning curve as her tenure on the board began shortly before the theatre closed due to COVID.  But its still Onwards and upwards, the shows will go on!

 

John Tilson - Trustee

Another familiar face from behind Audrey's Bar is John usually with his wife Margaret who can also be found in our Box Office.  

John has been on the Blackfriars Board for many years and brings a wealth of experience when it comes to structural and building requirements. 

John has and continues to play an integral role in our ongoing structural improvements with systems and facilities here at Blackfriars. 

 

 

 

The Staff

Andrea Townshend - Venue and Marketing Manager

Blackfriars Theatre has been a part of Andrea's life for close to 40 years as she made her stage debut here at the tender age of 6 years old.  Andrea trained in London from 16 at the Italia Conti Academy of Theatre Arts where she received her Performing Arts Degree.  

Andrea continued to perform around the country over the years, alongside working in offices and gaining her Marketing and Administration training. 

In 2003 she emigrated to New Zealand where she spent 6 years living and working as an Event and Marketing Manager as well as performing with several theatre groups. Before returning to Boston in 2009, Andrea starred as 'Rumpleteaser' in CATS at the Civic Theatre, Auckland.  

Upon returning Andrea immediately got back on the Blackfriars stage with numerous BOSMTG productions and after starting a family she joined the Blackfriars Marketing Team in 2014. Since then Andrea's role has grown and she is now the Venue and Marketing Manager and is working hard alongside the Board to ensure the Theatre pulls through this pandemic and comes out fighting fit.

Email: andrea@blackfriarsartscentre.co.uk

Amanda RiversPrincipal - Blackfriars Theatre Academy

Amanda is the Principal and Musical Director of Blackfriars Theatre Academy, a role she took on when it was re-branded in September 2016. She trained as a pianist and MD at Leeds College of Music, and has worked as a pianist on professional UK tours including ‘Cabaret’ and ‘The Witches of Eastwick’. She began working in Youth Theatre back in 2010 when she set up the volunteer run ‘What Free Time?!’ Youth Theatre. Following that, she was principal of the Embassy Theatre Academy in Skegness, before returning to her home town to work in her favourite local theatre, Blackfriars.  Amanda has produced many shows during her time at BTA including Elf, Rent, The Wiz, Little Shop of Horrors and High School Musical. She is incredibly grateful to be working in such a beautiful iconic local building, with such a fantastic team around her and with such a wonderful group of parents and young people. 

Email: amanda@blackfriarsartscentre.co.uk

BTA Team Members - Kim Rivers, Courtney Hunt, Natasha Townsend, Debbie Savage and Kei Bailey. 

 

 

 

Blackfriars undoubtedly plays a very important role as Boston's centre for entertainment and the arts. It is home to two very successful local amateur dramatic and operatic groups, as well as hosting a varied program of professional stage productions.