Colette talks about working with the local community on arts projects that can bring about real, long-lasting changes for people and communities.
My name’s Colette and I’m Creative Learning and Programme Manager at Stratford Circus Arts Centre. Within the role, I’m lucky to be working on a really diverse programme of activities, events and projects - all focused on supporting everyone in our community (aged 6 month to 96 years) to have wonderful, creative experiences.
My role is really varied. A lot of the time I’m working as a project manager, focusing on schedules and budgets. I also work closely with artists and companies to plan workshops and activities, and with our Development Manager Mia to apply for funding for new projects to expand our existing work. But within our small team, I also play a really hands-on role: welcoming people to events, gathering evaluation data, and visiting schools and community partners. The varied nature of the role suits me down to ground. It means that the role never ceases to be exciting and challenging, and no two hours (let alone two days!) are the same.
My job is very people-focused, and my days revolve around connecting and communicating with participants, artists, colleagues, funders and everyone in between. I’ve found that being able to connect and communicate with all of these people effectively is really crucial to doing the job well. After all, no matter how wonderful that outreach project we’ve planned may be, it means absolutely nothing if I’m not able to communicate its impact and bring people on board with it.
This huge emphasis on communication is an element of my role which I absolutely love, but honestly it can also be pretty exhausting. During busy periods when my phone is ringing off the hook and everything’s happening at once, it can be overwhelming, and I find it really important to grab bits of time throughout the day to switch off from work. I also rely on the support of my colleagues, who really do go the extra mile to help and motivate each other.
Because so much of the work we do is underpinned by shared values and social aims, I’d say another important requirement of the role is really believing in and caring about our projects - participatory arts can bring about real, long-lasting changes for people and communities.
I’ve found that the challenges of the job can also be some of the biggest perks. The sheer amount of fun, connection, joy and satisfaction I get from my work is hugely motivating. It’s the reason why creative learning and participatory arts folk – myself included - are some of the happiest (if occasionally slightly frazzled) people I know. We have the best job in the world!