Last night (20 November) saw the opening night of what is undoubtedly the biggest show ever to come to The Lowry, the National Theatre’s War Horse. As well as being a huge night for everyone involved on-stage and off, there was an added dose of personal significance for me: back in 2007 I watched one of the first preview performances of War Horse, in the first year of my first full-time job in the arts at the National Theatre. Little did I imagine then that six years later I’d be leading on the marketing campaign when what is now one of the biggest shows in the world visited one of the biggest theatres in the country!
Essentially, my job here at The Lowry is really quite simple: get as many people as possible to come through the doors and engage with our theatre shows, our exhibitions, and our learning and participation programmes. What makes it uniquely challenging (and rewarding) is the sheer breadth of the offer here: a typical day might see me writing a script for a radio ad for the ballet, getting a leaflet designed for a children’s show, having a meeting with a young theatre company bringing their first show to our Studio, and booking in a press advertising campaign for a folk band – all before lunch!
Like many people, I kind of fell in to arts marketing. I had three very happy years at Manchester University studying Geography, but somehow spent all my spare time immersed in student music and theatre. This all made me wonder if, rather than becoming a geography teacher or weather forecaster, I could perhaps get someone to pay me to do this music / theatre sort of thing, and before long I was signed up for a post-grad course in arts management at Goldsmiths in London. This then led to an internship in a theatre’s general management office, which turned into casual work stuffing envelopes in the marketing department, and finally to a paid (!) position at the National Theatre. I was definitely a bit overawed for quite some time, but it was the best possible introduction to the industry and I loved every minute of my year there.
I then moved on to marketing jobs in smaller London venues for a couple of years before returning to the North to take up my current role at The Lowry, and I don’t think I’ve paused for breath since! It’s been an absolute pleasure working alongside the National Theatre again over the past three years: as a partner company of The Lowry, they’ve brought some of their biggest hits here from One Man Two Guvnors to The History Boys and of course, War Horse, which over 100,000 people will be seeing here this Christmas.