My journey to freelance life - how, where and why it all began
How did I become a freelance project manager?
I honestly never thought, as a fairly risk-averse person, I’d end up leading the life of a freelancer but here I am, happy and with good mental health and wellbeing after two years so I thought it might help to tell you how and why I do it…
Since my first job, following my arts management degree, in a small fringe theatre above a pub, I knew I was in the right place working in the theatre industry. The buzz of the place, the passion of the people and the end result of these amazing shows to watch gave me the drive to pursue my career in theatre administration and management.
These people were all freelancers, often working for little or no money, financing themselves and their work for the love of it and exposure to greater things. It worked, as in that tiny 50-seat blackbox theatre, I worked with the now massive Hollywood stars I affectionately call the two Toms (Hardy and Hiddleston).
It was clear to see their talent but the other thing I recognised was their sheer determination to do the thing they loved. I’ve never been motivated by money or accepted a job for the salary, in my early career I remember living with no internet connection at home but as I spent so much time at the theatre, or in the office, it didn’t matter!
I worked my way through fringe theatre, theatre in education, the West End and off-West end producing venues and spent many happy years at the Almeida being promoted several times and working with a fantastic bunch of people and a mentor I’m now honoured to call a close friend.
Having gained my human resources (HR) qualification and a job at the National Theatre, I decided I should enhance my professional practice by gaining experience outside the industry so I stepped into the private sector and corporate world for a few years. It’s fair to say we didn’t gel as well and I missed my theatre life.
Having married an amazing guy and being happily settled in St Albans, I was able to take the plunge and go freelance. Through my networks in St Albans I secured my first project manager role and began my long-standing role as administrator of a local, independent performing arts school. Word of mouth saw me gain further clients, one of whom I am currently working with for the second time.
To say that the Covid-19 pandemic has been challenging for the theatre industry is a massive understatement but I hope that the resilience, determination and passion of the many freelancers within the industry will win out in the end.
My aim is to use this time to position myself in the market so that I can continue to do what I am passionate about: supporting small, creative organisations to do more, when they perhaps don’t have the in-house skills, resources or capacity to achieve what they know they have the potential to. I’m not from a corporate background driven by the bottom line, to me people are the most important resource in an organisation and having worked in a diverse range of them I understand the different needs this entails. I provide not just HR project management but project management for leaders of small, creative businesses. Find out more about me HERE.