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Looking Back Over 25 Years…

darts CEO Duncan Robertshaw shares his fondest memories of The Point

A participant shines a torch through coloured tissue paper

Since opening its doors to the residents of Doncaster in 1998, The Point has welcomed thousands of visitors through its doors to take part in inspiring, exciting and accessible community arts opportunities. We’ve been hearing from staff, participants and volunteers about what 25 years of The Point means to them, and the wider Doncaster community.

We asked CEO, Duncan Robertshaw, what The Point at 25 means to him…

Tell us how long you’ve been involved with The Point, and what brought you here?

I’ve been involved since the beginning…

In late 1994 the four of us who made up the darts ‘team’ in those days, sat around the coffee table in our office at Bentley West End Youth & Community Centre, and wrote our first Five Year Strategic Plan. A central aim was to get our own building – an office, store and workshop space being the limits of our ambition. Two years, an independent feasibility study, and one of the earliest National Lottery grants later; we had the keys to two semi-derelict Georgian town houses and £1.2m to turn them into The Point.

What’s your favourite memory of your time at The Point?

I struggle with favourites but here’s one of the fondest…

In late 1996, before the builders moved in to start the conversion, we invited all our participants, partners, artists and volunteers to a ‘First Footing’ event. The idea was to play with our new space and introduce the plans. We spent a few days decorating the space, creating installations and planning events, loosely themed around ‘the people who were here before’ – those previous residents of Nos 16 and 16A South Parade.

An evening of mild chaos and huge celebration followed with rooms and corridors filled with people, and an overwhelming sense of anticipation and excitement about the road ahead.

 What does 25 years of The Point mean to you, and looking ahead, what would you like to see for the next 25 years of The Point?

Looking back… Immense pride and mild amazement that after 25 years, an international financial crisis, a decade of public sector austerity, a global pandemic, and cost of living crisis, we’re still here – given we started with the flimsiest, most optimistic and under researched Business Plan you could imagine.  Funders would never take such risks these days but The Point, our participants and the impact we’ve had is a testament to why they should.

Looking ahead… On the one hand the last 25 years have taught me not to predict the future, so much about the shape and focus of our work has changed in that time and I imagine by 2056 we’ll have evolved many times over.

Fundamentally what we do today is what we did in 1998: artists and participants creating art together, making new stories, meeting tough challenges, making the world a better place to be. I hope that never changes

– Duncan Robertshaw, CEO

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