Celebrating National Careers Week
It’s National Careers Week from 6 – 11 March 2023 and we’re celebrating by sharing some of the diverse and interesting careers that people have here at The Courtyard.
Here is a little glimpse into some of the roles that keep The Courtyard running, and some helpful tips for those looking at pursuing a career in those areas.
Lexi Myers – Programming Assistant & Participation Administrator
I assist the Artistic Director in choosing and negotiating with the shows that we have here at The Courtyard. We programme everything from comedians to contemporary dance, celebrity talks to serious drama, tribute acts to classical orchestras and everything in between.
I also do all of the administration work for our Education department, including classes for children and adults at The Courtyard, in the community and in schools. Every day is different and I have to have a broad knowledge in many areas to do my job.
I have a background in Artist Management, Casting, Education and PA work. I am also a mum; so organisation and perseverance have been key skills that I have developed over the years as well as the ability to do a variety of completely different tasks at the same time!
I work within the Education and Programming departments but I also work closely with Marketing, Box Office and Front of House.
My route to this job was not a conventional one through education, but through volunteering, working in a variety of roles, life experience and saying yes to opportunities. Even if they weren’t always enjoyable, I learnt through challenges and working with different kinds of people.
My advice would be to volunteer, think outside the box and always be developing yourself through training or work. Push yourself to grow and get out of your comfort zone. Finally- be a people person- make connections, make a good impression and work hard at everything you do.
Katie Meredith – House Manager
I’ve been House Manager now for nearly 8 years. I started off as Deputy and worked my way up!
I thoroughly enjoy the role, it’s completely varied. I could be running a show one night and I could be organising workshops another day. I manage First Aid and if there’s ever a fire I’m responsible for getting everybody out. I manage over 120 volunteers who come and steward our shows and films. There’s also a lot of training involved, I train staff members and stewards on things like fire safety and evacuations. I also look after the people hiring our spaces such as the Main House, studios, meeting rooms and exhibition spaces.
So how did I get into this? I started off doing Performing Arts at University in Bath. I wanted to be an actress, but then realised I didn’t like the idea of the lifestyle that comes with that career! I then got into Front of House work through Bath Spa Live and ended up at The Courtyard, initially just as maternity cover but I’ve stayed on!
The advice I would give if you’re wanting to do something like Front of House in the arts is that you need certain skills. You definitely need to be organised, you need to like working with people and dealing with customers that could be of all ages. I would definitely get into your local theatre, maybe even start stewarding or volunteering to get an idea of whether it is something that you want to do.
You can come from any walk of life to do this job, but managing is challenging and so I would recommend looking at some sort of Events Management course or volunteer as much as you can to build up your experience because you will need it!
Clare Wichbold – Fundraising Manager
How do you become a fundraiser? In my case, it wasn’t quite by accident, but a rather surprising route. I began my working life as an archaeologist, travelling all over England working on sites like on the BBC television programme Digging for Britain. I spent some time with English Heritage and was involved in the early plans for setting up the National Lottery heritage grants programme in the mid-1990s. I found this really interesting about how funding could help projects which might not otherwise happen, and when a job came up with the National Lottery to give out grants, I jumped at the chance to do it.
I spent a couple of years as a Grants Officer based in Birmingham, then an opportunity came up working in Herefordshire to both distribute grants on behalf of the Council and to support community groups to apply for funding. I really enjoyed my role as Project Development Officer, as I could help people from the early stages of their idea to seeing projects come to fruition. It wasn’t always easy, I didn’t always succeed, but I enjoyed seeing how even a small grant could help charities fulfil their ambitions.
In 2013 I moved to work as Fundraiser at Hereford Cathedral, and was lucky to work on some exciting projects like the Poppies: Weeping Window, and the restoration of the Eastern Cloisters which was funded by the National Lottery. I then changed jobs again in 2018 when I took my present job as Fundraising Manager at The Courtyard. I now spend my time writing funding applications, raising money through events and activities, encouraging donations from people who love The Courtyard, and working with businesses who want to help us through sponsorship and corporate membership.
If anyone wants to become a fundraiser, I think the most important thing is to volunteer with a local charity to learn how it works. Being part of fundraising, such as sponsored events, shaking a collecting tin and helping at events will give you a good idea of what’s involved. It’s important for funding bids to be able to write well and add up, and also sharing in what makes the charity special will help to make great bids for money. I love it at The Courtyard when we have Family Festival and I can get dressed up, but also know that what I’m doing will give me experiences to write about for future funding applications.
Ethan Hargreaves – Marketing & Film Programming Assistant
Originally from Halifax, West Yorkshire, I’ve steadily found my way south through education and work opportunities, culminating in my role as Film Programming & Marketing Assistant at The Courtyard. After finishing my A Levels I went on to study film at De Montfort University, Leicester followed by a Masters degree in Film Distribution & Marketing from Birmingham City University. All the while I was working and volunteering with my local arts venue, Phoenix Cinema & Digital Arts Centre, as well as a range of film festivals and distributors. These experiences and qualifications set me up nicely to apply for the more creative and permanent role I hold today.
As Marketing Assistant, I support the Marketing and Sales Team with a range of responsibilities including scheduling social media posts, creating video and photo content, building emails campaigns, managing all print around the building, plus many more. I personally take responsibility for the marketing of the Cinema, Live Screenings and Visual Arts.
Shortly after beginning in this role I progressed into the Film Programming Assistant role through which I support our Head of Film, Simon Nicholls, in building our monthly film programmes and ensuring the smooth operation of the cinema. In this role I am required to bring forward new and exciting ideas for our film programme to best serve our audiences as well finding ways to attract new attendees. With my background in film, I use my knowledge of the industry, audiences and of film history to support The Courtyard Cinema’s programmes, ensuring we play a broad range of films from around the world to as diverse an audience as possible. This also requires us to maintain regular subtitled, audio described and relaxed screenings so we’re as inclusive as possible. I also help manage the cinemas content, scheduling the films and trailers to play correctly. If all is running well, you won’t even know we exist!
In both of my roles I’m constantly required to work with a range of teams including operational, programming and catering departments. We hold regular meetings to determine how Marketing can help promote new shows, films or dishes and we consult front-of-house and box office teams regarding new event plans.
If you’re looking to work in the arts the best advice I can give is to find your local arts venues and find out what you can do to take part. Whether it be volunteering on events or just attending whatever you can, you’ll gain experience and become more familiar with the roles you could fill in the future. For me, I began by working on a bar in the Cinema based on catering experience in an ASDA café. Start where you can and progress at your own pace.
If it’s the world of film specifically you love, the best advice I can give is to watch as much as you can and learn about the history of film around the world. The more you watch, the more you’ll learn about filmmaking, how the business of film works and how audiences have evolved. Whether you went into acting, filmmaking or programming like me, this knowledge will always serve you well.
Ellen Dorset – Youth & Communities Participation Manager
I am the Youth & Communities Participation Manager, which basically means I coordinate and oversee the participation programme at The Courtyard and in particular the classes we provide for young people and families. This role is within the Education Team and is a varied, wide-ranging job that keeps me on my toes. I get to work with lots of different people – including schools, freelance artists, and our wonderful Youth Theatre members. One of my favourite parts of the job is directing shows with the Youth Theatre. My most recent show was ‘Fantastic Mr Fox’ performed by The Phoenix Youth Theatre, which as you can imagine was a lot of fun. Working in collaboration with our community venues (Phoenix Theatre in Ross, Conquest Theatre in Bromyard and Market Theatre in Ledbury) is also a real highlight of the job. I’m very excited about the project I’m currently working on with The Courtyard Senior Youth Theatre, we are creating an immersive early years show inspired by the song ‘Teddy Bears Picnic’ which is being performed in the summer.
I have always loved drama, it was my favourite subject at school so took it for GCSE, continued it at A-Level and then also university where I studied Drama, Film and TV. I have worked my way up to the manager role over the past 12 years, from starting in a voluntary position as Youth Theatre Assistant. My advice to anyone is always – follow your passion! Also a good tip is to get as much experience as possible, whether that is voluntary or paid, and to be proactive in seeking out opportunities. I love working at The Courtyard and feel so grateful to be able to do a job I feel so passionately about.
Richard Loveridge – Technical Manager
Hello, I’m Richard Loveridge, I’ve been here since 2011. I started off as a general technician, I then started working a little bit with lighting before becoming the sound technician in house and for the last 18 months I’ve been the Technical Manager. That means that I’m responsible for making sure that all technical aspects that happen in shows, that’s lighting, sound and anything that happens on stage happens safely, and with the appropriately skilled people in place to make sure that it happens well.
The thing about Technical, is that you end up working with every other department. Everybody has an input. We need to work particularly with the Programming department to make sure that the shows that come in are appropriately sized, that we can manage to meet all of their technical needs. We work with Front of House to make sure that the audience can enter the space safely and to deal with the structure of the building. We work with Marketing if there are any crossovers when the performers come into the building and they need to interact with the audience in a particular way and we just work with everybody when they need something from us!
There are a couple of paths to get into this type of work. There are a number of university courses and college courses that will prepare you for life in the theatre. They are all extremely good and every technician that I’ve met that has come out of that procedure has been incredibly well skilled with the latest equipment. But for some people studying isn’t really the way to go forward, so as long as you are willing and you get engaged, involved, and make yourself available, just introduce yourself to your local theatre, say that you’re interested and generally speaking I think anybody would be happy to give you a chance, try you out and help you learn on the job. That’s very much what I did, and look where I am now!