Backstage at The Lowry: Matt Eames, Theatres Programmer and Producer

Matt Eames, Theatres Programmer and Producer
Matt Eames, Theatres Programmer and Producer

I have a terrible job. Terrible. You wouldn’t want it. Really. You wouldn’t.

What do I do? My job is to watch a lot of theatre and then, working alongside my colleagues in the Programming Team, decide which shows would work well on The Lowry’s stages. I told you. Terrible.

I’m joking obviously. I’ve read a few of these backstage blogs and everyone waxes lyrical about how they love their job blah blah blah… but really… come on… we in the programming team have the best jobs. No doubt!

As an example, I’ve just got back from our annual pilgrimage to Edinburgh for the International Festival and Fringe. This year I spent the best part of a week there, seeing 38 shows in 5 days. As I say, I watch a lot of theatre…

It is always an exciting time and there is some friendly competition among the team to find something brand new, an undiscovered gem that will go down a storm with our audiences. Between us we cover a lot of ground. Steve, the Head of Theatres Operations focuses on the large to mid-scale seeing more from the International Festival than the rest of us, Francesca focuses on family and young persons programming. I look at small to mid-scale theatre while my colleague Claire watches similar scale work but with a view to perhaps starting a relationship with an artist or company through our Developed With The Lowry or Associate Artist initiatives. Between us, we saw well over a hundred shows. And it pays off. Many of the shows we see in Edinburgh find their way into the programme. In Autumn alone, there are 13 productions in our theatres that we originally saw at the Fringe (not including any stand-up comedy).

And it doesn’t stop with Edinburgh. We try to ensure we all get out across the country to see as much as theatre as we can throughout the year. Of course it’s not just about watching shows, it’s about encouraging artists and companies to bring their work to Salford and talking to fellow programmers and producers about how we might work together to make things better for the people who make great art and, naturally, the people who watch it.

There are downsides. Late nights at the theatre and a lot of travelling means less time with family and loved ones and an unhealthy relationship with good food and rest. Ironically, enjoying the job can mean that finding the right life/work balance is even more difficult.

But don’t worry I’m not moaning. I still have the best job in The Lowry. Right?