Getting To Know You: Jane Franklin, Development Director
We chat to Development Director, Jane Franklin, about life at Hampstead Theatre, Chariots of Fire, and the time she fell into an orchestra pit…
How long have you been working at Hampstead Theatre?
I’ve been here since the end of March 2011 – exactly 18 months – time flies when you’re having fun!
What does a normal day at Hampstead involve?
There is no such thing as a “NORMAL” day! Every day brings different challenges which is why I love it. Fundraising here is gathering momentum in line with repeated artistic success. Fundamentally my job is really about relationships and my day consists mainly of looking after existing relationships with our supporters and thinking of ways to develop new ones.
What inspired you to work in theatre?
Someone asked me this just recently …. It’s really strange actually. I think I am a frustrated actor! I went to a junior school called Hurst Lodge with a strong drama and stage culture. One of the principals was Doris Stainer whose brother was Lesley Howard (who played Ashley in Gone With the Wind) Juliet Stephenson and Diana Weston were my contemporaries there (and most probably others I can’t remember). I took various drama and dance exams and learned to play the piano (badly). I had no real talent and terrible stage fright! I remember having to recite a poem at a school concert called Jack Frost and I fell into the orchestra pit off the stage mid flow. My mother trained at the Royal Ballet School and was always prancing round the house to beautiful music and took me to the Ballet at Covent Garden when I was very young. There is something about a performing arts environment that I find very seductive, magical and exciting. My first job in the arts was at The Royal Opera House in Covent Garden when I was in my 20’s and since then I have worked consistently in the Arts.
How did you get your start in development?
Kind of by accident really. My old boss at Covent Garden said he thought I’d be good at it and I spent years as a charity event management consultant raising big sums for specific causes including the Friends of Covent Garden. I then worked for a well-known disability charity managing their events department. After 8 years there I realised that I was only interested in the fundraising aspect of those events and not sitting at ghastly committee meetings listening to people arguing over the colour of the tablecloths and whether they matched the pudding – so I decided to dump the events for good and just focus on the “raising the money” part!
What is the best part of your job?
Easy! When someone decides to support the theatre because of the experiences they have had here and because they believe in what we are doing. This is a wonderful place to work and particularly at this time. I get to meet interesting people.
What is the worst part of your job?
There isn’t a worst part. Losing funding is of course disappointing but that’s the challenge.
Favourite moment working at Hampstead?
Seeing Chariots of Fire on our main stage for the first time and the whole auditorium on their feet
Favourite play at Hampstead?
I don’t think I can really answer this because I have enjoyed all the plays I have seen here for different reasons.
Any backstage gossip?
Plenty but I’m not going to discuss it here!