On Monday 1 March, Newcastle University Careers Service ran a week celebrating creative careers in the region with videos, Q&As and written blogs from people across a range of professions in creative industries. With the hope of inspiring the next generation of graduates to find their path in to their new careers. Our Marketing Coordinator, Scott, was asked to contribute to the Creative Careers week as an alumni of Newcastle University way back in 2008, writing about his experience working at Gosforth Civic Theatre and what it means to him. We thought that more people should read about it, so here is the full blog!
You can see the original here.
A Case for Your Creative Career in Culture.
We are blessed with a vibrant cultural scene in the North East and especially Newcastle. Not only that, we are truly spoiled with unique and adored theatres, music venues, and cultural spaces. I count myself very lucky to have worked within that cultural landscape for the last six years, first at Sage Gateshead and, for the last three or so years, Gosforth Civic Theatre.
GCT is an arts venue like few others. Formally a council run Civic Hall, it was taken over by Liberdade [pronounced li-ber-da-jie] in 2016, a disability arts organisation who work with people with learning disabilities and autism. The venue exists because of our company members to bring more local people and people with learning disabilities together in a building that provides great art for everyone. It bridges gaps between different groups in society as well as being great café, events space, community hub, and venue. It’s special.
I joined in September 2017 as Marketing, Events and Programming Coordinator tasked with growing the profile of the venue and charity, increasing audiences, helping to grow our programme, assist with and mange events, and develop marketing channels. The jury’s out whether I’ve done any of that, but I haven’t looked back since and count myself lucky to be part of such a great organisation. Here are 5 reasons why I’ve loved it so much:
I’ve been lucky to work with some brilliant people in previous roles and have made lifelong friends doing it. That has continued at GCT. I work with some of the most passionate and dedicated people you could care to meet, we’re a small team and I get to work with everyone closely on an almost daily basis. The impact of the past year and how the organisation has stuck by its staff in the face of a pandemic and threat of closure has been incredible, not just financially but through moral support, wellbeing and training.
However, the real pleasure, privilege and life changing experience is getting to know our company members and people who are part of our Liberdade groups. Having not known or worked with anyone with a learning disability before I joined, my whole perspective on life has changed since meeting Ed at my interview and then the 50+ other groups members every week since. The difference they make to the organisation, and to the lives of staff, the public and each other is profound and is a constant reminder why it’s important that GCT keeps growing and making a difference.
This is an extension of number 1 to be honest but worth its own mention, because, even from a professional point of view, it’s important. Arts and community organisations, somewhat more than others, create strong and passionate communities which almost act as their own eco systems; supporting one other through good times and bad. This job, especially as a marketing position for a small organisation, involves a lot of on-the-ground relationship building with the wider community. I get to meet a range of customers, artists, creatives, members of the community, promoters and organisers, press, and many others. Which means I get to build relationships, get feedback to inform how I promote the organisation better, make events happen, and give people opportunities to work with us. It gives me regular and real-time reminder of the impact we’re having as a venue as well has allowing me to meet loads of cool and fascinating people from different areas of society.
Life is about taking opportunities, whether major or mundane. Working in a small team leads to roles being more fluid sometimes. We all pitch in when it’s needed, and this means getting the opportunity to be involved in things outside of your day to day role. They might not be relevant but each one helps you understand your role within the organisation better and how your actions fit in to the greater scheme of things. In the past three years, I’ve learned to set up a PA, run live streamed gigs on multiple platforms, turned an auditorium in to a cinema, pulled pints, made half decent lattes, supervised and set up for conferences, supervised a wedding, looked after artists, helped organise beer festivals and book beers, helped develop a programming model, taken tickets on the door, ran an after school film club, and a load of others that I’ve forgotten. It’s varied, busy, demanding, stressful, inspiring and awesome.
This is the most LinkedIn reason yet but it’s in here as a vehicle for context and exposition because I’m conscious that you’re reading this thinking “… but what do you actually do?!…”
As Marketing and Programming Coordinator I’m directly responsible for day to day promotion of the organisation and creating of content through: all social media channels (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn), email marketing, website (including design and development), print (including design and production of posters, flyers and a quarterly What’s On Guide), digital marketing campaigns, booking print ads, sourcing editorial, PR including in house blog and news page, ticketing set ups and administration, budget management, marketing data analysis, as well as act as photographer and occasional videographer and editor when required. On top of that I get to sit on the programming team, feeding in to our direction based on audience and performance, helping book artists and coordinate the calendar, plus a host of other stuff that comes up in between.
I love being given the trust and support to be responsible and take ownership of almost every facet of my role, including growing it where necessary as the job and business demands. It keeps me driven, focussed and hungry to learn more.
At the core of all of this is creativity. I get to be creative with the design, copy writing and promotion of the business and try different things to see if they work. For example our What’s On Guide has changed format and each edition keeps a strand of identity while allowing me to try different layouts, page design and ad designs. Last year I was able to create a new logo for our front of house t-shirts, we’re now using the logo on our branding after it was received well by most of the team, this has now allowed us to start a line of merchandise as another way of promoting the brand. But it’s not just practical and written creativity, you also practice problem solving within a team during meetings and event coordination, and I get as much satisfaction from witnessing and learning from someone else’s intuitive creative solutions as I do my own. The creative process never really stops, that’s what I love about it, it’s always there whether it’s you, the people around you or the environment you’re in.