Being Head of Creative Programmes, Q&A with Rachel Nelken

From the 9th to the 12th May the Albany will be hosting 8 performances by young people as part of The National Theatre Connections festival. They will be performing plays that were commissioned by the National Theatre specifically for young people to perform. This festival is all about putting young people centre stage and giving them access to a professional experience of the theatre industry.

We know how difficult it can be to break into the arts industries, there are few paid entry level positions and the competition is high. Therefore during the lead-up to NT Connections we will be interviewing individuals holding some of the most senior positions within our organisation who will hopefully be able to provide some insight into this world, tell you about the wide variety of careers available, and show how they managed to get where they are. Our first interview is with Rachel Nelken, Head of Creative Programmes at the Albany…

How would you describe your job?
I am a senior arts manager, who manages a team of producers at a busy arts centre. We work with many artists and companies to put their shows and projects on at the theatre.

How did you get into the arts, and this particular career?
I trained originally in music but after my music degree realised I wasn’t cut out to be a musician! I went and studied a post-grad diploma in Arts Management and decided to get involved in making art happen instead. I have done lots of jobs in the arts particularly in arts funding (I have worked at the Arts Council and the PRS Foundation for New Music) and I also worked as a fundraiser too. I’ve worked in community/local authority arts and as a freelance producer. I landed a freelance contract which then became permanent at the Roundhouse in  Camden which took me in a slightly new direction working in a venue as a Senior producer there and that led to this role in 2017 which seemed to really encompass everything I have done

What do you like the most about your job?
Loads of things – working with artists to bring great shows to the venue, working with great colleagues here at the venue to make those shows happen, thinking about ways to make our programme distinctive and  reach more people, thinking about ways to engage audiences…it’s all really interesting

What is the trickiest part of your job?
Having to make difficult decisions as we can’t support or programme everything  and there are some worthwhile things we can’t say yes to.

Do you have any advice for others who want to pursue similar careers?
Try and get as much different experience as you can, particularly in arts funding and fundraising – and learn as much about the wider arts sector as you can. Knowing how organisations make money and learning to make grant applications yourself gives you an extra skill that many arts organisations are looking for even if you’re more interested in the creative side.

Thank you Rachel! Watch this space for more blog posts.

To find out more about NT Connections at the Albany click here.
To find out about some of our other work and opportunities for young people click here. 

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