A big hello from Joshua Davies and Kay Nicholson from Brighton Dome. We are currently Music, Theatre and Entertainment Management students at the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts, and have kindly been given the opportunity to shadow Dance Consortium Tour Manager Heather Knight on the Danza Contemporanea de Cuba tour.
We are currently on a coach to Gatwick Airport and saw this an excellent opportunity to reflect on our days on tour so far. We arrived in Brighton on Sunday evening and instantly fell in love with the seaside, creative culture we saw all around. We went for supper with Heather who introduced us to our roles on the tour and gave us an overview of the next few weeks (over a glass of red wine … or two)!. She gave us an insight to her invaluable knowledge of the dance touring industry, culminating in some of her top tips for tour management. These included; to be nice to everyone (including the most important people at a venue, the stage door staff), treat everyone as a person, prepare for plan a, b and z and the fact there is never a “what if” in the touring industry.
Our first working day on tour we were lucky enough to be introduced to one of the Producers at the Brighton Dome and Festival – Rob Jones. He has a widely diverse career focusing on creative producing, particularly with a community focus. As aspiring producers ourselves, it was incredibly interesting to learn about his career path and to gain some advice to succeed in this industry. Rob said the best advice he could give us was “to not pretend that we knew everything, networking was key and to gain as much experience as possible”. We also asked him about the increased use of technology within the arts (such as live streaming) and whether this helped or hindered artistic processes. Rob believed that technology was essential for accessibility, as well as it ticking the boxes on Arts Council funding applications.
We later met Lucy Brooks, Senior Marketing Officer for the Brighton Dome and Festival, at a delightful (very Brighton-esque) coffee shop called the Plant Room. As a dancer herself she was very excited about the Cubans in Brighton and gave us an insight into the challenging world of marketing. Josh focused on the impact of social media on arts marketing within todays society; Lucy believed platforms such as Facebook and Instagram were effective in increasing brand awareness, but not always successful in converting into ticket sales. We are both producing a show up in Liverpool at the moment (Made in Dagenham, April 27th – 29th!) so it was interesting to hear a marketing professionals opinions on our work so far.
Other tasks in Brighton included; ensuring beers were available for the crew after the get out, gathering social media content, selling programmes front of house, checking over admin tasks (another of Heather’s top tips – check, check and check again) as well as enjoying some free time in the spa, exploring Brighton Pier and eating fish and chips by the sea! We were also lucky enough to see the Cuban’s performance which we were truly blown away by – they are also the loveliest group of people to be working with.
The tour so far has been incredibly insightful – at university we learn the theory of touring and how it should work, this has given us the opportunity to see how it actually works in practice.
A big thank you to the Brighton Dome (or as Lucy called it the Big D) and all of the lovely people we met who are so passionate about their work. We’re off up to the highlands now!
Josh and Kay x