Backstage at The Lowry: Frances Blythe, Quays Culture Administrator



Before working with Quays Culture, I held a couple of positions with charities and in the public sector but kept contact with art through an internship at FACT Gallery, curating grass roots exhibitions and during a Fine Art MA through which I was chosen to exhibit in the Bloomberg New Contemporaries.

I feel lucky that, through this job, I get to work closely to the art and meet exciting artists with a provocative vision.

I’ve been working with Quays Culture for almost two years now, although it wasn’t called that when I started, having previously had the title Quays Arts and Cultural Events Programme, and a lot has changed since then. The programme began through a research and development endeavor under the rigorous and energetic direction of Kathy McArdle. Kathy moved on to pastures new and I was joined by Lucy Dusgate fresh from the Arts Council, and more recently Laura Broome from the Hofesh Shechter Company.

Quays Culture is a programme with a remit to animate the spaces between the buildings of The Quays with innovative and inclusive events, performances and learning opportunities. We work closely with the partners across The Quays, including The Lowry, who have been good enough to house us, IWM North, the BBC, The University of Salford, Trafford Council and Salford City Council, amongst others.

Operating on a comparatively young site means we are often forging new ground and might hear the question ‘you want to do what?!’ when we ask to launch fireworks from the Ship Canal or co opt a section of the Studios foyer to install a series of giant sculptural artworks. But actually, it is the support, enthusiasm and creative input of our colleagues across The Quays that makes our programme what it is, and working with these people from a range of departments and a host of organisations is one of the real privileges of working with Quays Culture.

Being in a small team means my tasks can vary from project to project, for example I might be stepping up my input on press and marketing and creating lots of digital content, or be more involved with the operational side of event planning, or even curating. There is always variety and there are always challenges, which of course is just how I like it.