Former police officer Lee Johnson is new operations manager at Diss Corn Hall
The pull of the arts has always been strong for former police officer Lee Johnson.
His wish to return to the creative industry and get involved in theatre is what lay behind the 41-year-old’s decision to become the new operations manager at the Corn Hall in Diss.
Having previously worked as a police officer in Suffolk and Bedfordshire, he left the force to join the charity Access Community Trust as an arts and culture education co-ordinator.
“It got to the stage where I wanted a new challenge,” said Mr Johnson, who has a degree in performance. “I saw the role advertised and thought it would give me the challenge that I’m looking for.”
During his time on the force, Mr Johnson completed a masters in theatre direction.
He said: “I really enjoyed that and the reason why I did it was that I felt I wasn’t doing anything creative in my life and I wanted to get back involved in theatre.”
Despite only starting his new role last week, Mr Johnson is not unfamiliar with the Corn Hall.
Back in 2010, his company, Nudge Productions, brought the play Ruffian on the Stair to the venue, followed a couple of years later by the comedy Lady Windermere’s Fan.
His role will see him take overall responsibility for the day-to-day operations of the venue, including staffing.
One of his goals is to raise the profile of the Corn Hall within the local community.
He said: “What worries me is that going to the theatre is seen as an exclusive activity.
“We don’t want it to be like that – we want it to be the Corn Hall for the community.”
He added: “I want this to become a destination for people and I want us to be able to link in more with local schools.”
The Corn Hall is also looking to expand on what it provides to Diss and the wider area.
It has been less than two weeks, but Mr Johnson is already smitten with the job and the town.
He said: “I get to come to work every day in this wonderful building. Diss feels like a lovely town and, from what people who work here have told me, it is. Hopefully, I will spend many years here.”
He takes over from Clare Robinson, who left the role to take up a position as an operations manager for a health centre.