I’m Josh, I am on the Masters course in Arts Management, Policy and Practice. My placement took place at manchester jazz festival between January and May 2017. I took the marketing position at the festival. I came to this decision after searching the options available through ICP and finding a limited number of marketing positions in performance based arts institutions. I have previous experience working in communications and marketing at an international dance company so it seemed the closest fit to where my interests lay. Up until this moment I hadn’t considered working in an alternative environment other than within the dance industry, dance has been something I have been involved in since a very young age and maybe ignorantly I hadn’t considered different career routes. One thing I was sure about, is that I wanted to work in the marketing branch of the arts.
I will admit, I was apprehensive before starting work with the festival. I had no prior knowledge of jazz as an art form, and little understanding of the festival. Steve Mead the Artistic Director had also given a lecture on the festival in semester one’s module Arts Management Principles and Practice. To see him talk so passionately about jazz made me realise that I knew literally nothing about the art form, either way I had committed to the placement so was at least going to try.
From the first day of my placement my perspective totally changed. I was warmly welcomed, by a small but enthusiastic team of individuals. I was given a full job description that stated my responsibilities and who I was to report to, like any other professional paid work I had completed in the past. It was clear the festival were treating me as an employee and was I always invited, encouraged even, to participate in work events outside of office hours. Although initially being concerned that I had no prior experience of jazz music, I wasn’t alone, many of the members of staff were passionate about the arts in general and had a specific skill set such as development that had brought them to the festival. This was really encouraging as I realised I wasn’t completely out of my depth and was always encouraged to contribute in team meetings.
A lot of the work I conducted at the start of the placement was research based, to give the Marketing Manager more time to get on with other tasks. My very first task was researching ticketing agencies that could support the festival. As the festival is small, with limited funds they outsource their box office, this means each year they usually find a new box office agency that best suits the needs of the festival. I compiled a list of agencies highlighting how they could meet the festival’s criteria and any holes in what they could offer regarding what the festival needed. This was then used by the Marketing Manager to arrange meetings with each box office agency.
This experience was really rewarding as it emphasised to me, how many of the operations of a specific role within an arts or cultural organisation are the same, for example most Marketing Managers are responsible for writing a programme. It was reassuring to experience this, as now I would be more open to taking a marketing or communications position at a performing arts organisation, rather than limiting myself to just the dance sector.