The Music Hall in Portsmouth may have been born in the 19th century, but it very much has the vision and energy of a 21st century child.
This historic venue is one of the most popular and well-known performance spaces in the Northeast, and yet, it does not sit still. The people who operate The Music Hall realize that it’s not enough to wait for an audience to come to you. You also need to reach out to your audience.
Not so long ago the The Music Hall was considered a cultural gem, but this reputation was based more on its stature as a historic building than for anything happening inside. There were concerts and movies, but locals would tell you that the mission of The Music Hall was rather undefined.
In its long history, the venue had seen its ups and downs. Eight years ago the Board of Directors decided the hall needed some new energy and hired Patricia Lynch as executive director and lead curator. She had been in charge of two theaters in Minneapolis/St. Paul.
The board, she said, was looking for a “bold vision; someone who could bring us to the next place.”
The Music Hall had all “the right ingredients,” Lynch said: It was an outstanding regional performing hall located in a community oriented toward the arts and near the ocean (always an attraction). Also, The Music Hall could attract performers with more talent and stature than those who migh normally perform in a town of 22,000 people.
What The Music Hall needed to do was “to mix these ingredients together in the right way,” Lynch said. “I needed to mix it up, create some signature programs, and become very oriented toward the business side.”
When she came on board, The Music Hall was in a “very precarious situation.