As part of my MA in Art Gallery and Museum Studies, I was given the opportunity to undertake a work placement as the Festival Marketing and Communications Assistant at Jodrell Bank Discovery Centre. This was to support the delivery of their annual festival, Bluedot, which is now in its fifth year. The festival exists to intertwine science and culture in a weekend of music, talks and workshops for all ages, and ultimately to prove that science is not only an academic subject but part of our daily life. 

I saw the placement as an amazing opportunity to get more experience in marketing, something I have always been interested in and knew would be useful going forward in my career. I was really excited about getting involved with something as unique as Bluedot. Bluedot sets itself apart from other festivals through its commitment to placing science on an equal footing with its music offer, and it harnesses its connection with the University of Manchester to secure speakers who are leading experts in their field. The festival also takes place on the grounds of Jodrell Bank itself, which has recently been granted UNESCO World Heritage Site status. This means the entire festival is framed underneath the Lovell Telescope, a feature which Bluedot incorporates through light illuminations and shows. 

Bluedot Festival flyer 2020/21

Throughout my placement, I was involved in collecting and uploading information around the science line-up to the Bluedot official website and app. I also worked with my placement supervisor on email campaigns, and wrote two blog posts shared on the Jodrell Bank website about various additions to the line-up, and what the festival would look like in 2020. It was a really insightful experience, which allowed me to use my creative side whilst also gaining tangible skills. 

My placement was originally scheduled to take place for 20 weeks, from January to May. However, due to the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, it was cut short in March, with the festival itself subsequently also being postponed to 2021. This situation gave me an unexpected insight into the ways the marketing world might be affected for months to come, where campaigns will now have to concurrently capture an audience’s interest and trust. The experience I gained in my two months at Jodrell Bank was invaluable, and I feel lucky to have worked on such an exciting, unique project that brings people from all over the country to Manchester.

Ceri Stewart is a student on the MA in Art Gallery and Museum Studies.