Working in performing arts: Employee case study
Cara Pritchard describes her job as creative projects manager for a regional theatre.
What is your role?
I am the creative projects manager. My role is to devise, plan, initiate and deliver creative opportunities for schools, communities, young people and adults.
The opportunities our theatre offers include:
- workshops led by industry professionals aimed at developing skills in various art forms, performance projects and productions
- opportunities through our summer schools
- work experience opportunities
- projects and festivals for schools.
My job is quite diverse and a typical day is quite rare! At the moment I am processing application forms. I have just given a talk to a group of college students. I am also in the midst of project planning and budget tallying for our next season of work, as well as creating an installation for our foyer space!
What do you like about your job?
It is a job in which you think up then make and deliver the whole creative process. There is room for creativity, coming up with the idea, developing it and then making it happen and seeing the outcome. Being able to do this is something that I really enjoy.
You get to work with nearly all the departments in the theatre and I value being part of a team. This part of my work gets me out from behind the desk! I also get to engage with lots of groups of people and see them enjoying, learning and being inspired by theatre.
What’s not so great about it?
There is a large part of my job which happens from behind a desk. This doesn’t always feel like the most creative place to be, even though what I am doing might be!
There is also general administration to be done like spreadsheets, which can sometimes be a little frustrating!
How did you get to where you are?
I really enjoyed studying BA Drama and Education. We studied theories of the use of drama in education, creating performances and workshops for young people and directing.
After university I became a freelance drama practitioner. I ran youth theatre workshops in schools and colleges.
I started working here as a part-timer working with schools and colleges. I then became a full-time employee in a much more hands-on practical role and applied for my current position.
What do you want to do next?
I would love to manage a department similar to the one I am in. I would also like to produce my own piece of work with a friend in the industry. I have a fantastic idea which I would love to develop!
What kind of skills and qualities do you need to be good at your job?
To be good at this role you need to:
- have experience of working with different ages and abilities in a variety of settings
- have a good knowledge about how theatre works
- be organised
- be able to deal with a number of projects at the same time
- be a good communicator
- be able to follow and produce budgets
- be good at managing people, places and things
- be able to work to tight budgets and schedules.
I also think it is good if you are passionate about the arts and about engaging people in them!
What kinds of changes are going on in your industry?
The big change in our industry at the moment is the funding. With funding sources being cut, theatres need to find ways of continuing to create fantastic work and projects of high standards with much less money.
What advice would you give young people thinking of doing your job in the future?
Try and get some experience and go to see lots of theatre productions. You should get involved with a theatre or youth theatre through a scheme or take part in workshops and projects.
If there is an opportunity to have some work experience then take it. This might get you experience in the areas of project planning and workshop leading.
If you can, work with young people - ask if you can run a drama class. This will help you gain experience.
More case studies
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