It’s a well-known fact that students love extra perks. Recently, Lincoln’s Student Union announced they would be undertaking the management of both Tower Bar and The Engine Shed from the University.

Photo: Gregor Smith
Photo: Gregor Smith

This switch takes place on 1st August, and is expected to offer a wide range of benefits for students to enjoy.

One advantage we could all be experiencing very soon is a social space specifically for students. To help us students take ownership of the venues, the SU have plans to adopt a policy whereby the public will be signed in as guests of students.

However, local Lincoln people could still visit the bar if they become associate members of the Students’ Union.

We spoke to Brian Alcorn, Vice President for Welfare and Community and President-Elect, who said: “It’s not to say the local people will be forbidden. That’s not what we’re trying to do. We’re attempting to prioritise students to make sure they have a safe space, a place students feel is their own.

“I found some students were avoiding Tower Bar. They like bars, but they’d go elsewhere in town partly because they didn’t have that sense of ownership,” he added.

Ian Richards, a Public Relations Officer for the University, compared the setup to that of other student bars around the country: “Obviously this is not a completely new model. This is a model many other universities operate and have successfully balanced the needs of the students with running a live music venue.

“Of course the public will still be able to get involved with the many things that the Engine Shed brings to the city as a whole. But in terms of the day-to-day atmosphere, I think it will be more student-focused.”

This isn’t the only improvement Lincoln students will hugely benefit from. Most students are involved in different societies and sports teams; all of which require space for their activities, events and aim to minimise costs to guarantee more fun for their members. The SU is hoping to aid societies and teams to reach this goal by allowing students use of the Engine Shed either for sports or social events.

James Brooks, Chief Executive of the Students’ Union, said: “At the moment, some of the societies, such as Drama, rent premises elsewhere, which costs them an absolute fortune, but now we have a venue with a stage, seating and lighting. Now, we’ll be able to offer students the use of this area at a much lower cost.

“The same goes for sports facilities. There are some sports that just need an open floor area, and if they can’t book the sports centre we’re looking at being able to accommodate those type of sports within the Engine Shed.”

The Engine Shed, however, will not compromise its prime purpose of being a live music venue, so expect to keep seeing your favourite bands rocking the stage.

James added: “This doesn’t mean we’ll stop doing live music and gigs, because this is what the Engine Shed is for, it’s a live music venue. This just means when those gigs aren’t taking place, we’re going to make that space usable for students.”

Among the new advantages the SU will be offering, both the Engine Shed and Tower Bar will feature cheap deals guaranteed to save some pennies. “The Shed, the Engine Shed, and Tower Bars currently buy stock from NUSSL, which is the NUS’ trading arm,” Brian explained. “So whatever deals go on in the Shed will be fairly similar, if not identical, to the deals that will go on in the Engine Shed or in Tower Bars.”

For those of you who hold a current job with Tower Bar and The Engine Shed, James Brooks assured all staff that they had “made the commitment that there will be no redundancies,” whilst student jobs will be created through non-permanent positions for events.

Profits raised by this venture will be reinvested back into the Student Union, to “help to grow and develop what we do further. But there’s things we don’t do already that students have asked for, such as an advice service,” Brian suggested.

The student voice is a strong force when it comes to contending for things they really want. This will be carried through into these venues with a consultation process, allowing students to make suggestions and choose how these places will run.

“You are the Students’ Union, so what you as a cohort of students say is what will happen,” affirmed outgoing SU President Dan Sam. “If that’s a better loyalty scheme, we will work towards a better loyalty scheme.

“Just speak to us. You guys have some great ideas. The reason we’re here is to keep it fresh. It’s all about you, and you guys use the venues.”

If anyone has any suggestions on how they would like Tower Bar, the Engine Shed or the Shed to be run, or any other ideas regarding stock, email or visit the Students Union!

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