Chris Lockwood likes to stick close to his beloved Granite State
MANCHESTER — Laconia native Chris Lockwood left the state to attend college in Virginia, but he only lasted one semester. He was too far away from his beloved New Hampshire.
He did go as far as Western Massachusetts to attend, and then work as a media specialist for Elms College in Chicopee. "It made me miss New Hampshire so much. There was no water out there. I always knew I was going to come back," he said.
He came back first as director of marketing for Meadowbrook U.S. Cellular Pavilion in Gilford, then as director of corporate development for Spooky World Nightmare New England in Litchfield.
Since February 2013, Lockwood has been director of marketing for the Palace Theatre, and he feels like he's really home.
"Now I have two children, I couldn't imagine raising them anywhere else," he said. "It's a professional choice but also a lifestyle choice."
Lockwood said New Hampshire has a variety of entertainment attractions and venues, but he said they all have the same problem: "Getting people to move around the inside of the state."
He said,"One of my biggest concerns at Meadowbrook and certainly here (in Manchester) is the regional mindset." He said there are major concert venues at the Verizon Wireless Arena here, Meadowbrook and the Hampton Beach Casino. But while not so many miles separate them, music fans don't seem to go to all three, sticking to the one closest to home.
"My challenge is to overcome that (regional) mentality and increased mobility within the state," said Lockwood. To do that, he develops joint projects with other venues. "We are partners in the arts," he said.
An example is a partnership between the Palace, the Red River Theatre in Concord and the Flying Monkey Movie House and Performance Center in Plymouth, with each venue promoting the others. "I would partner with anyone," he said, if the partnership was mutually beneficial.
"Our main product is producing theater," said Lockwood, with professional actors in professional productions. The exception, he said, is the children's theater program. "Our children's programming is amazing," he said. It fosters an overwhelming sense of camaraderie and is a safe and happy place to go while learning the skills needed for a career in many aspects of the entertainment world. The confidence that accompanies process will stand the students well in any career, he said.
Lockwood is especially excited about celebrating the Palace Theatre's upcoming 100th anniversary. "It will be the season of the century with huge blockbuster shows," he said.
Lockwood acknowledges that the Palace hasn't been operating as a theater for all hundred years, and in fact was closed and used for other purposes during some of those years.
But it's open now as a nonprofit that needs community support. Lockwood will work his hardest to promote it to the public, partner it with other venues, persuade businesses and organizations to support it and make it a first choice for live theater, not only for Manchester residents, but also for residents throughout the Granite State.
"I love what we do here," he said.