Our Development Manager Bethany tells us how she came to work for Kneehigh and her journey to being where she is now.
My first experience of Kneehigh was when I was 6. I took part in a workshop led by Anna Murphy and Alice King to make banners for the 1997 An Gof commemoration walk to London. I remember sitting on the floor in the school hall cutting out newspaper shapes and fabric, and my banner was one chosen to be carried all the way on the march to London.
Fast forward to 15 years later and I was sitting at my desk at the end of my third year at Exeter University wondering how on earth I was going to get a job when I left. Up popped a Tweet from Kneehigh with a call out for volunteers to be part of their Front of House team at the Asylum, and I applied.
I had a great summer volunteering on Steptoe & Son, meeting lots of brilliant people, and finding out how a theatre venue ran. I learnt that the best way to be a volunteer is to be enthusiastic, whatever the task, and to really care about what you are doing, even if it is just mopping a stage. I also volunteered to help with marketing and I drove around the busy summer villages and towns giving out flyers and putting up posters for the show. During my time at the Asylum I met Sally Knight the Artistic Director of Cscape Dance and I also volunteered for her, completing administration tasks around the If the Shoe Fits tour.
This was then followed by volunteering on the 2012 Village Hall tour of the Kneehigh Rambles Show. I visited the shows and ran a competition to collect the audience data, and then visited the Kneehigh Office to collect the data into spreadsheets.
This volunteering experience meant that when the position for an Administrator and Development Assistant came up at Kneehigh I was already known to the organisation and was invited to interview. I had some administration experience from working with Cscape, and I could talk in much greater detail about Rambles, the Asylum, and Kneehigh in general at the interview.
I think perhaps the best way to begin to pursue a career in the arts is to volunteer with an organisation that you admire. It is a great way to gain experience and learning and to also meet other people working and volunteering in the industry. It is no guarantee that you will be offered a job, in fact this is quite unlikely, but often it will lead to other opportunities which could end in employment. It’s also a really brilliant thing to do! I still volunteer for arts organisations as I think it’s a good way to find out how other organisations work and be part of some great projects.
I have now been at Kneehigh for 4 years moving from Development Assistant to Development Officer, and recently to Development Manager. Interestingly one of the volunteers I met at my first shift was Millie Jones, and she now sits in the office across from me as our Production Assistant!