I started my job as the participation and learning manager three years ago and the time has flown by. Before I started here I was lucky enough to study, train and work in some of the brilliant regional theatres we have here in Greater Manchester before working as a lecturer at the University of Central Lancashire and taking up further study at The University of Manchester on their MA in Applied Theatre course; these rich learning experiences are what really led me to the career I’m lucky enough to have now and I love it!
So my role is part of The Lowry’s learning and engagement team who are the department which work with children, young people and communities to offer creative opportunities in the arts for anyone and everyone.
Within the team, my role is to manage creative projects and programmes for anyone aged 0-105 to get involved in. We have a really diverse range of activity to suit any age, ability and experience from school classes to families to adult courses. Being inside The Lowry with its theatres and galleries we ensure that all of our activities are cross art-form, offering dance, drama and visual art to anyone whether they are a budding artist or just want to have a go for the first time. In my job I try really hard to make sure we have something for everyone and that everything we do is welcoming to people of any level of experience.
In addition to these activities, I also manage a strand of very specific projects that are for children and young people from difficult backgrounds or who are facing issues in their life, making them vulnerable or ‘at risk’ in some way.
To enable these projects to happen I work alongside our development team on The Lowry’s Christmas Appeal, which is an annual fundraising event where our brilliant staff, volunteers and audiences help us to raise the money that enables us to work with these vulnerable or ‘at risk’ children and young people in Salford in a long term, sustained way.
An example of the way in which this money has allowed us to work with these young people is our work with Salford Young Carers which has taken place over the past three years, supporting them to make films about their lives, based on their experiences. These films are now used to raise awareness of young carers issues at both a local and national level as they presented their film at The House of Lords to MP’s and now their films are shown in all Salford High Schools, as well as a number of primary schools. They are also used to train teachers and student nurses at The University of Salford which has had a big impact on the number of young carers receiving support in our city.
These are the projects that make me light up, I am really passionate about using the arts as a tool for social change because I genuinely believe that the arts are very unique in the way in which they allow young people to have a voice and express themselves in a way that is safe and cathartic and enables them to improve their lives. Why would I want to do anything else?