MEET Sophie Fullerlove – the new woman in charge of one of the biggest arts and heritage venues in the south.
The 30-year-old is the new director of The Spring in Havant, taking over from Amanda O’Reilly, who was in charge for 10 years.
Sophie comes to the job facing a tough financial situation because council grants are being cut.
But she says she is determined to grow the audience and make sure The Spring is at the heart of a vibrant Havant.
Sophie said: ‘It’s really exciting and has a lot of potential.
‘It’s the only arts centre in the county that has an integrated heritage centre.
‘I’ve got a degree in history, so I’m really excited about that aspect.
‘I would like to see it continue to thrive.
‘It’s a difficult financial situation and it’s my job to get it through a tough time.’
Sophie was the previously the general manager at Forest Forge Theatre Company in the New Forest.
She got the bug for the arts while working part-time as a theatre usher while at Cardiff University.
Sophie, originally from Gloucestershire, said she is hoping to do more projects in the community, attract sponsors to help with funding and expand the mixed programme of shows and exhibitions.
She will be in charge of an annual budget of around £500,000.
Sophie said she would like to increase footfall outside The Spring.
She said: ‘The borough council is trying to do regeneration work and we are very interested in being part of that, but I do think there is more to do.’
Sophie said her surname – which she has only had since December when she got married – always raised a few eyebrows.
She laughed: ‘It’s an unusual one, but hopefully it means everyone will remember who I am!’