July 11, 2014, by Beth Dawson

From the lecture theatre to the stage: Tom’s arts administration experience

By Tom Barnes, BA English Studies and Latin (2012), MA International Security and Terrorism (2013),  Arts Administration Intern at Lakeside Arts Centre 

Discovering the opportunity

Last February, I was given the opportunity to begin an arts administration internship at Lakeside Arts Centre. Like many graduates, I wasn’t sure what career path I wanted to take. However, unlike many graduates, I was in the unique position of both studying for a masters in international security and terrorism and starting my own theatre company. When I saw the opportunity to gain some broad arts experience, I decided that this would benefit my theatre ambitions.

My first week in the job

I was thrust into the heady task of organising a trip for ten East Midlands-based programmers to a children’s theatre festival in Aarhus, Denmark. In doing so I was able to enhance my travel agency skills to include an intricate knowledge of Danish road, rail and air travel!

I was also able to attend the festival myself and watched 17 shows in just three days. The opportunity to see international-standard performances and spend time in the festival environment with theatre professionals from very different venues in the region was invaluable – as was meeting programmers from Australia, South Korea and Egypt.

A handful of the projects I’ve been working on…

My personal aim of the internship was to pick up the necessary skills and knowledge to run a theatre company in the East Midlands. Throughout the post, my main project has been coordinating the newly established East Midlands Children’s Theatre and Dance Network which brings national and international shows to the East Midlands. Every day I have the opportunity to work with colleagues across 12 different venues from Buxton to Spalding and Northampton to Mansfield. This has included working in a wide range of departments including programming, marketing and participation. I’ve had the chance to work with touring theatre companies, booking agencies, designers and the venues themselves to pull together regional touring productions. On top of this I now know how to make vinyl penguin footprints and Pinocchio masks – it’s never an ordinary day in the imaginative world of children’s theatre!

In addition to my work on the Network, I’ve had the opportunity to work on a variety of projects at Lakeside Arts Centre. I organised the first Local History and Archaeology Day and diverse celebrations such as Afrovibes, Chinese New Year and Diwali. I’ve also been involved with the wider theatre programme including Lakeside’s very own children’s festival and the city wide Nottingham European Arts and Theatre Festival.

What I’ve got out of the experience

I’ve learnt how much goes into running an arts centre as diverse and eclectic as Lakeside and how much imagination and passion goes into the arts industry behind the scenes. It’s a fantastic opportunity to learn and gain skills in multiple artistic areas, and judging from questions I’ve been asked in recent job interviews, it provides a huge pool of experiences to talk about.

Think Tom’s internship sounds like just the opportunity for you? Applications are open for the Arts Administration Internship at Lakeside Arts Centre, find out more information about this opportunity and how to apply on Unitemps’ website. Also, if you want to discuss getting into arts administration, book an appointment with a member of our team through My Career

Posted in Work experience