We are delighted to announce our new partnership with mac birmingham. This week we hear from Daniel Whitehouse, the Next Generation Producer at mac. Daniel is responsible for shaping the arts centre’s young people’s programme. He gives young practitioners some advice about turning dabbling into a career…
Full name/age/job title:
Daniel Whitehouse, 31, Next Generation Producer, mac birmingham.
Please give us an overview of your average day.
My day usually kicks off with an attack on the emails and then it’s straight into the planning, programming and shaping. There tends to be a daily job list to get through and a plethora of things to think about, so it’s always full steam ahead from am to pm with a blend of administrative, creative and strategic duties.
A key part of my role is strategically shaping mac’s provision for young people as producers, ambassadors and creative consumers and to develop our young people’s programme both at mac and across the city. In order to achieve this, a great amount of the working day is spent liaising with the wider arts, communications and operational teams, as well as artists, curators, educational contacts and other partners. Networking is vital and I really value face-to-face contact, so I always try and schedule meetings and, where possible, go and see work, which enables mac to build and strengthen relationships with partners and organisations in the city and nationally.
So to sum it up in a nutshell…
Planning, programming, shaping, liaising, networking.
What is the most common misconception about your job?
Well there is a bit of a Star Trek reference in my job title so that sometimes confuses people, but generally I think people have a good grasp of what being a producer entails. I think a common misconception about the learning and participation programme is that it can be seen as an added bonus or a supplement to the main artistic programme. We strive to place learning and young people at the heart of the program and organisation and enable their voice to come through.
It’s learning and participation Jim but not as you know it…
What is the hardest thing about your role?
The hardest aspect of the job has definitely got to be the devil in the detail and the multitude of things that you will be working on at any given moment. I have never been in a job that requires so much attention to detail and multitasking. There is no quiet period in the arts and, as we are open 364 days a year 9am to 11pm, there are plenty of things to consider and spaces to fill.
I don’t think I have ever changed my fantasy football team or booked a holiday in this job, so that says a lot!
When did you decide what you wanted to do with your life and how did you set out to achieve it?
Having spent my twenties trying different things out – doing a bit of freelancing, being an artist, a lecturer, coordinating festivals, facilitating community workshops and not worrying about what I wanted to do with my life – I saw this role pop up and It enabled me to combine all the things I had dabbled in. That’s when it clicked for me. I was about to turn 30 so I think that also had something to do with it.
What can you do to get a head start?
One of the biggest bits of advice I give to the young people I work with is to always try and be multi-faceted practitioners (so don’t put all your eggs in one basket). I think it is important as an emerging artist and practitioner that you try and test out as many things as possible and immerse yourself in as much art and creative content as possible, particularly when you are at the base of the summit.
That multifaceted approach is also important when you are developing yourself as a freelance artist or arts professional. I think it’s crucial for all emerging artists to have an understanding of administration, communication and networking, as they can be vital tools to get you where you want to be and keep you ahead of the game. Also, it’s an obvious one, but if you know how to play the social media game then I think you’re half way there too. And if you combine all the above with a bit of creative business acumen then you’re laughing, maybe not all the way to the bank, but you will certainly have given yourself a good grounding to be successful.
Could you describe the creative element to your job?
It’s all creative, but in different ways. In most cases it’s about supporting and championing the creative process, particularly in the development of young people’s work and their resilience, risk taking and leadership abilities.
I think creative exposure is vital too. So through my role I try to find ways of introducing young people to high quality art work, and to creating original work to be shared with the wider community of young people in Birmingham, The West Midlands and nationally.
What’s the one thing you wish you had known at the start of your career that you know now?
Errm, that’s a tough one, but I guess these are some of the key ones…
- knowing how to make it as an artist and being able to use social media strategies and marketing tools.
- giving more time to develop and realise my practice.
- allowing more space to breathe and to test and try out things.
Which organisations/websites/resources do you think would be useful for people entering your industry?
Ideas Tap of course
ARTS JOBS Arts council England
A and N
Live art development agency
Check out The Junction at Cambridge they have a great programme
Visit our new mac birmingham partner page to find out more!
Would you like to be featured in Job of the Week? If you work in the creative industries and would love to share your advice, expertise and experience with IdeasTap members, drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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