Barnaby Parade Credit Simon Brown
Barnaby Parade Photo Credit: Simon Brown

Some of the most fulfilling moments of my nascent professional career have occurred while I’ve been a member of an efficient and effective team. During my undergraduate music degree, I began to transition away from an academic and performing focus and towards practical development of events. This was partly because of changing professional preference but also practically as I realised that I wasn’t quite capable of supporting myself purely through performing and teaching music freelance. And so I began pursuing work placements with artistic institutions while otherwise taking opportunities to expand my professional experience in events management. When the time came to apply for placements, I focused my efforts on the Chorlton Arts Festival, Manchester International and Manchester Jazz festival and the Barnaby Festival in Macclesfield. I was referred to the latter by my tutor Abi Gilmore and began my placement in October 2015.

One of the most prominent things that I gleaned from my first day (aside from excellent selection of real ales in the Park Tavern) was that the Barnaby Festival has a degree of public support greater and more universal than any other local festival I’ve ever seen. Everyone is aware of the festival and most are very willing to provide time and assistance when asked.
My role as project manager for the Barnaby Festival has been to produce two items of programming for the festival in June. The first is a musical performance by local violinist Tom Kitching. This event will be held at a secret location and live-streamed online for audiences to find. The second project is a mixed programme of events that will take place on an artificial “Maccles-Field” stage in the town centre. Both of these items have undergone significant changes since I was assigned to work on them and have required me to find creative solutions to problems as they occur.
The Maccles-Field. Photo Credit: Philip

With the supervision of my Line Manager, I have overseen the construction of the stage for the “Maccles-Field”, begun programming and contracting artists and have collated and organised many of the artists copy and image contributions to the festival brochure. A prominent difficulty in performing this role has been the managing of budgets. The initial pitch for “Jigs in Space” was for Tom to perform on the roof of an established building in the town square. However, when it came to approaching the owners of the building, they were unwilling (quite understandably) to allow him to perform unrestrained, and the necessary safety precautions were costed at far beyond what the budget allowed (not to mention they were an eyesore). The Maccles-Field has undergone similar changes in format, mainly due to issues of material/construction costs as well a council by-law about traffic access to Macclesfield’s Market Square which limits our programming times.

Difficulties aside, working as a member of the Festival team has been hugely rewarding. I have had an active input into the creation of my projects and have gained a great amount of practical experience. Since joining, I have constructed detailed budgets and health & safety documents, contracted professional performers and developed a network of contacts in an unfamiliar area. Though I have exceeded the parameters of 20-day placement, I intend to continue working at Barnaby one day a week in order to see my projects through to completion and generally be of assistance in any way I can. I’ve already booked one of the Barnaby branded deck chairs to keep as a trophy of my first professional endeavour. I can only hope that the weather will be pleasant enough to warrant using it (!)