Back in February, I had my last shift as a guide in Shakespeare’s Birthplace. I’d been in this position for over a year, and while it was a wonderful experience that taught me so much, I felt it was time to move onto something new. It was time to hang up the Tudor dress, and move into a role that would become the start of a career in creative programming and event coordination.

I was thrilled to find I had been accepted for a role I’ve been aiming towards for about 6 months, in the Creative Programming department in the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust. This deparment is fairly new, having being formed in response to the SBT being given National Portfolio Organisation status by the Arts Council. The department’s aim is to work towards a cohesive programme of activity across the Trust’s five historic properties, as well as their administrative hub the Shakespeare Centre. This programme includes small activities run at the houses such as make-and-take crafts; the monthly evening events called After Hours, which vary from talks, to performances, and workshops; as well as larger scale events including the Shakespeare Birthday celebrations and the Stratford Poetry Festival.

While I have only been in position for about a month, it has been a fantastic experience so far. I have been on training courses, and been given familiarisation with various systems and departments; I have been given new responsibilities such as taking the lead on the March After Hours event, and having a hand in recruitment of other team members; I have had creative input in the poetry festival, too, using my experience of festival planning and my knowledge of the poetry world to programme some exciting artists.

The most wonderful thing has been how kindly everyone has welcomed me into the department and into the role. It’s certainly a lot to take on and get my head around, but I’ve been met with patience and understanding all the way. I do keep pinching myself, as I never thought I would be in my dream job this early on in my life..! But I’m so grateful for the opportunity, and looking forward to becoming ever more immersed in the role and the events we programme.

This new role fits nicely around my MA commitments, of which I still have one module and a dissertation to complete before August. As I settle into my position I am also finding I have my weekends free to relax, read, and hopefully to write. It does mean, however, that I will no longer be involved in the Verve Poetry Festival in Birmingham. Another post will follow, recounting the recent 2020 festival, and my past few years’ experience working on the festival.

Thanks to Jade for the lovely photo (top)! You can find her on Instagram @london.moments.photography.

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