​Arts & Culture

Lighthouse pays tribute to ‘highly respected and much loved’ former CEO Ruth Eastwood

By Andrew Diprose [email protected]

Published: June 7, 2024 | Updated: 7th June 2024

Tributes have been paid to a former Chief Executive of Lighthouse Poole.

Ruth Eastwood, who was CEO from 1997 to 2008, died on May 31 after a short and unexpected illness.

She was responsible for taking a run-down Poole Arts Centre and turning it into a nationally renowned venue.

In doing so, Ruth was backed by the local authority and the Arts Council, both of whom remain fully committed.

Her successor as Chief Executive, Elspeth McBain, said: “Ruth’s passion for Lighthouse and her impact on the organisation was huge – the cultural life of Poole and the wider region owes much to her drive and vision.”

After holding positions at Hull Truck Theatre Company, the Royal National Theatre, Bradford Theatres and as Head of Arts and Culture for Darlington Borough Council, as well as Lighthouse, Ruth also served as Chief Executive at Blackpool Grand, Curve in Leicester, and Darlington Civic Theatre and Arts Centre.

In February, she took up a new position as theatres adviser at Theatres Trust, having previously served on its board for nine years and been Vice-Chair for the last six years.

Elspeth said: “Ruth was hugely respected and much loved in the theatre world.

“She achieved so much and had a positive influence on so many. What a legacy.”

Artist and broadcaster Sally Winter, a former Trustee and Deputy Chair of Lighthouse paid touching tribute online to her dear friend, posting: “Professionally awesome, but personally even more so.

“Feisty, funny, hilarious at times, principled and hugely intelligent, steering a compassionate path through life. She was an enduringly loyal friend to me and mine.

“Our paths met as she bounced in to her interview for the post of CEO at the former Poole Arts Centre. She shone then and on as she steered the rebuilding and rebranding of what is now Lighthouse Poole.

“During my time as a Trustee it was awesome to watch her love of theatre and the arts infuse the building and the staff, establishing a solid relationship with the Arts Council while mentoring and fostering talent within.

“Her particular skill was to nurture and develop, to make huge and necessary changes without losing existing skills, but absolutely having an eye for new ones – if they didn’t always believe in themselves; she did.

“You may not have heard of her, but quiet women like her move and change things and take others along with them.

“Watching her work and build was inspirational and instructive as a professional, but her honesty, generosity and irreverent humour were the things that sustained our friendship beyond the Lighthouse years until the present day.

“It has been an enormous privilege and joy be her colleague and friend.

“My dearest Ruth, along with so many, I will miss you always.”

Ruth’s husband Roger McCann has advised that, as per her wishes, there will not be a funeral. There will be a celebration party later on in the year.

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