The Broadbent Theatre Rebranding Community Project

Discover the community project in the village of Wickenby, Lincolnshire

The Broadbent Exterior Sign (21st Century) by Rowan GatfieldUniversity of Lincoln: College of Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities

The resident Lindsey Rural Players originated from the Holton Players, founded by a small community of conscientious objectors at Holton-cum-Beckering, Lincolnshire.

They saw themselves as a ‘redemptive minority, committed to a higher order of morality (as opposed to war) but also, to pointing the way towards a 'new order' through a communal, agricultural way of life.

Jim Broadbent Country Theatre after fire in the repurposed Nissan Hut (21st Century) by UnknownUniversity of Lincoln: College of Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities

The Conchies (Concientious Objectors)

With little electricity or radios during the war, entertainment involved musical evenings, singing, poetry and play reading; everyone (from Holton and beyond) was welcome. After the war, the Holton Players converted a Nissen hut into The Country Theatre which met a fiery end.







Scene from play put on by the Holton Players (21st Century) by UnknownUniversity of Lincoln: College of Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities

The Players continued to meet in the magnificent drawing room of Holton Hall, staging their productions in the bay window and making their entrances and exits through the sliding sashes.

The theatre's new selfie wall bearing the new logo and aesthetic (21st Century) by Rowan GatfieldUniversity of Lincoln: College of Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities

The Rebranding and Renovation Project

Building on this rich history, this project adopted an iterative, consultative (Action Research) approach,  which began with a pitch (to rebrand and reinvigorate the theatre) to the theatre's governing committee, prior to the onset of the Covid19 Pandemic in 2020.

The brand logo development process (21st Century) by Rowan GatfieldUniversity of Lincoln: College of Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities

Invigorated by the rebranding pitch (positioned to broaden its audience, while revealing its rich past), a process of consultative rebranding, and strategic repositioning ensued. Later, this translated into weekends of design, repair, renovation by a small group of volunteers.

Recreation based on archival photograph (21st Century) by Rowan GatfieldUniversity of Lincoln: College of Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities

Community is at the centre of the Theatre's ethos. It was decided to acknowledge the thousands of unsung 'heroes' that had and continue to volunteer their time, energy and talent through a series of illustrated depictions of these contributions. 

The Costume Makers - a recreation based on archival histories (21st Century) by Rowan Gatfield and Janis BowleyUniversity of Lincoln: College of Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities

These illustrations were either based on recreations of archival photography or took the form of reimagined scenarios to recreate the legacy of those who worked behind the scenes to make and sustain the theatre. These images now  line the walls of the main auditorium.

The Conchies at work in Lincolnshire (21st Century) by Rowan GatfieldUniversity of Lincoln: College of Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities

The theatre, located in the village of Wickenby, is surrounded by flat farmlands. This mural,  now in the theatre's reception area, is reimagined depiction of the Conchies at work  surrounded by RAF airfields during WW2. The red and white poppies point to this juxtaposition.

Vynil for Ladies Toilet Doors (21st Century) by Rowan GatfieldUniversity of Lincoln: College of Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities

An objective of the project was to illuminate and acknowledge the community spirit of the people that had lent their time, energy and creativity to the theatre's life. This illustration now decorates the cubicle doors of the 'Ladies'.

Depictions of local fauna and flora on the Ladies Loo door (21st Century) by Rowan GatfieldUniversity of Lincoln: College of Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities

A Country Theatre

The remote yet quaint, country setting of the Broadbent theatre, was a quality identified as something that could be embodied within the Brand offering.

An assemblage of local fauna and flora (21st Century) by Rowan GatfieldUniversity of Lincoln: College of Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities

Research into local fauna and flora, found within Wickenby and Lincolnshire, informed the approach behind the four hand-painted panels. The designs are comprised of an assemblage of birdlife and botanics endemic to the region.

Hand painted saws developed as signage (21st Century) by Rowan GatfieldUniversity of Lincoln: College of Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities

During discussions with the committee it was established that the surfaces of  various farming implements should be used as signage, to communicate the sense of a working community. What sufficed, was a set of old wood saws which were then hand-painted.

Illustrated signage for the theatre's Mobile Bar (21st Century) by Rowan GatfieldUniversity of Lincoln: College of Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities

During a pre pandemic pantomime of Dick Whittington, a pub sign for the show,  playfully named the 'Bent Broad'  (a play on the name of the theatre) stuck sand was transposed as the official name of the interval bar, which sells drinks and ice creams.

Bespoke Pulpit produced as the Theatre's Ticket Kiosk (21st Century) by Rowan GatfieldUniversity of Lincoln: College of Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities

Something every self-respecting theatre needs is an unusual ticket booth. In the spirit of nostalgia and in keeping with the building's history, as a Methodist Church, it was decided to build a bespoke pulpit-styled ticket booth,  repurposed from the last remaining church pew.

Show Posters - an intrinsic part of the rebranding approach (21st Century) by Rowan GatfieldUniversity of Lincoln: College of Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities

This project has drawn on both the  theatre's rich, tangible and intangible heritage by drawing on its limited archive of photographs and Show posters but also by reimagining aspects of its legacy. The process of reinvigoration continues through its shows and marketing material 

Credits: Story

Dr Rowan Gatfield | Senior Lecturer | BA (Hons) Illustration Programme

Illustrator, Graphic Designer, Anthropologist, Researcher and Maker with a theoretical and pragmatic interest in 'Traditionalism', traditional visual culture and 'heritage mining' (drawing on historic visual systems for contemporary design applications) within the United Kingdom and South Africa. This interest (in traditional culture) emerged during a PhD study in Cultrural anthropology (University of Kwazulu-Natal )centred around Zulu material culture (beadwork and its denotative role in society) but has extended to investigating the denotative visual traditions surrounding Narrow Boat Culture.

https://www.eyemagazine.com/blog/post/roses-and-castles

The Broadbent Project is an attempt to deepen this interest into British Traditional semiotics and visual traditions as a means of testing how lost visual traditions can be reinvigorated and reimagined for new audiences.




Credits: All media
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