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Blog: Meet our Head of Programming

We had a quick chat with our Head of Programming Ashlie Nelson about her role and how she got started.

Talk us through your typical day

I know it's a cliche, but my job really is different each day. I might have meetings with artists and companies about new shows, work on a funding application, go into rehearsals or see sharings of new work. I do a lot of strategic financial planning and modelling too, as well as contracting and administration for the programme.

How did you get started in your career?

I did a journalism degree which saw me move into PR. I worked for commercial agencies with clients across retail, fashion and property. It's strange to be promoting, and essentially selling products that you aren't passionate about, so I moved over to a marketing role in my local arts organisation, Brewery Arts Centre in Kendal. After that I worked in marketing and audience development, and was able to work closely with artists. I gained experience in artist development and support, before moving into programming and taking on the role here at Stratford Circus Arts Centre.

What’s the best thing about being Head of Programming?

What I love the most about my role is the breadth and variety of people you meet, artists you support and audience members you engage with. And I am able to support artists to tell stories and create work, which is so rewarding.

What’s the most challenging thing?

That you can't do everything. I am contacted by so many artists and companies with amazing ideas and opportunities, but as a one person programming team, with limited resources, I have to say 'no' more times than I would like.


What qualities do you think you need to succeed at being Head of Programming?

So much of my role is relationship management with artists, companies, funders, participants and audiences. You have to be a good communicator, and you have to be a people person. An unreasonable love of the arts and ability to work long hours over evenings and weekends helps too.