My name is George Scott, and I’m a part-time Arts Management, Policy and Practice (AMPP) Master’s student at Manchester University. One of the modules that is offered as part of this degree is a work placement module. This module is one of the reasons that I decided to undertake AMPP as my Master’s degree; it meant that I could gain hands-on experience in an arts organisation, whilst simultaneously working towards another qualification. It also has the added benefits of expanding my network of contacts in the Arts Sector, a sector in which I feel that networking is particularly important!
My preferred field of study is classical music – my undergraduate degree is in Music, and so this is the arts discipline with which I most closely identify. Although the ICP course offers a range of pre-organised placement options, I felt that there were not many options that were suited for one studying classical music management. I therefore decided to organise a placement myself, at an arts organisation in Lancaster called Lancaster Arts. Lancaster Arts is based at Lancaster University, where I studied for my undergraduate degree, and so I already had some knowledge of the organisation. Part of the work undertaken by Lancaster Arts is a classical music concert series that takes place in the university Great Hall. My supervisor was Fiona Sinclair, who is the Associate Director of Lancaster Arts and is in charge of managing the classical concerts series.
The placement was initially designed to undertake work in two different fields. The first field of work was artist and stage management. This required meeting artists on the days of concerts and supervising them throughout rehearsals, attending to any queries that they may have. Throughout the concerts themselves, I helped to manage the stage by helping with seating alterations, and give artists their stage calls. Above is a picture of my first session performing this work, in which I helped manage a concert featuring the 112-piece orchestra from the Royal Northern College of Music!
The other field of work was helping Fiona develop new ideas for audience engagement, in order to make the concerts more accessible to a wider audience and to maintain a larger audience base. Throughout the placement we had several brainstorming sessions in which we wrote down ideas for enhancing the Lancaster Arts concert experience. These ranged from new audience seating arrangements, to offering programme-matched wine and canapés in the intervals. I was then required to perform follow-up work on these ideas, such as contacting local wine companies to see how willing they would be to supply wine for the above idea. Whilst these ideas will not be instigated until the 2016/17 concert season, I felt that these research sessions were very worthwhile, as they relate closely to a lot of my other research in classical concert engagement.
Overall, the placement was incredibly successful. I gained a lot of hands-on work experience which I can use for my CV. Furthermore, Lancaster Arts are keen for me to interview for their box office manager post when the post opens in the next couple of months. Fiona has also been an incredibly useful contact already, as she was able to put me in touch with the Manchester Camerata for my dissertation research, due to her work there in the past. The ICP placement module is one that I would whole-heartedly recommend, especially if you are willing to go the extra mile and organise your own tailor-made placement!