They say that variety is the spice of life, which means that my job equates to a well-stocked spice rack because every day is genuinely different and it’s rare that I spend the whole day at my desk. Which I love. There are boxes of show print to be moved (I’m aiming for the best gun show in the building), the pantomime-branded transit van to be driven, people to meet, meetings to be had and press nights to attend.
There is a lot to be said for on-the-job training and, in particular, the amount you can learn simply through listening to, and observing others, within a workplace, which is why The Marlowe scheme of one-year traineeships is so special. I’m learning not only about how to market a show (which audience to target, how to get press coverage, the bits and pieces that make a great marketing campaign) but also where the marketing team sits within the structure of The Marlowe Theatre as an organisation, and where that organisation sits within the landscape of regional theatre in 2013. This is invaluable knowledge to carry with me to my next position, whether that be at another regional theatre or into the capital.
To spend a whole year being paid to learn and hone your skills, working within an experienced team who know their onions and want you to continue to work in the arts once the year is over and will help you to get there, is a diamond in the rough compared to one month or even three-month internships, whether paid or unpaid (and as far as I know there isn’t an apprenticeship in arts administration for someone with a degree). You just begin to settle into your environment and learn the ropes and then you have to up sticks and attempt to find another position so you can build up six months to a year’s experience, which is really what you need in order to be considered for a permanent paid position in arts administration – believe me, I’ve looked at enough job specs.
More than 100 people applied for my position; in my application I told my story of what experience I already had, not only of marketing but other aspects of the theatre industry – event and stage management, box office and some general administration. Then, I made sure I went to the venue and watched a show before my interview. I spoke about what I could bring to the position and what I would walk away from it with. In my interview I brought hard copy examples of marketing work that I had done in the past but was honest about the amount I still had to learn. After this year is over I know I will have enough experience to move on to another job in arts marketing, which past Marlowe trainees have done, some even at The Marlowe itself. And from there who knows? But in that next round of applications I will have another solid year’s worth of skills and knowledge, and the support of my co-workers to go out and succeed in our field.
Nadia Newstead is an arts marketing trainee at The Marlowe Theatre. For more information about the training, visit the Marlowe’s website.