Backstage at The Lowry: Gillian Sherwood, Head of Learning & Engagement.

Gillian Sherwood, Head of Learning & Engagement at The Lowry.
Gillian Sherwood, Head of Learning & Engagement at The Lowry.

I joined The Lowry in July 2011 as Community Development Manager. Prior to that I’d worked in various museums and heritage sites across Scotland, Staffordshire and Greater Manchester managing learning programmes and community outreach.

In 2014 my role was changed to Head of Learning & Engagement. I’m responsible for ensuring we provide accessible high quality creative opportunities for people to express themselves and to develop personal and professional skills.

I manage the amazing L&E team who deliver creative programmes and projects for people aged 0-100+yrs. We deliver visual arts, dance and drama via our schools programme, under 5s activities, family activities, youth programmes and a range of adult courses for people from across the North West. We’re committed to ensuring we offer a range of exciting activities for everyone and anyone!

We also deliver a number of targeted projects working with young people ‘at risk’. These programmes combine a range of art forms and employability skills. I find them incredibly fulfilling because they are important in raising awareness about the challenges and issues faced by some young people and help to increase the level of support available to them. And they’re fun!

I’m also responsible for the work we do specifically across Salford. I work closely with Salford Youth Support Service and Neighbourhood Teams amongst others to develop programmes which use the arts as a tool for social and personal change. One highlight has been working with young people from Swinton on a dance, music and film project which explored their aspirations and hopes for themselves and their neighbourhood in the future.

Every day is different. One day I’ll be in meetings, another I’ll be planning a dance programme for older people with Rambert Ballet or Birmingham Royal Ballet or I’ll be writing a case study as part of our role as an Arts Award Good Practice Centre, or putting the final touches to our new strategy.

My role involves working closely with the rest of the L&E team on the development and delivery of projects and programmes. I also work with the Programming team, Marketing and Development teams to plan, promote and fund-raise for our work. I love the variety of the job and the opportunity it gives me to work with other colleagues and partners both across The Lowry and externally.

I’ve seen the arts provide incredible opportunities and have life-changing impact on people. The Lowry’s an astounding building and organisation to be in. I’m incredibly proud of the work of the Learning & Engagement team and it’s a joy to be part of. How many people can genuinely say ‘I love my job!’?