How would you describe your current role and what do you like best about it?
I’m the Chief Executive of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society, the organisation that underpins the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. There are lots of things that I love about it, but for sure the best thing is getting to experience all the wonderful artists and companies that come to the Fringe each summer from all over the world – bringing the best comedy, theatre, music and dance (amongst other things!) for the delight of the audiences. That and meeting and working with some truly amazing people.
What was your first ever job?
Weirdly, my first proper job was here too. I was admin assistant in those days (20 odd years ago). Very different in those days, but it’s definitely when I caught the Fringe bug.
Has there been a particular person or opportunity that you feel has made the most difference to your career?
Working for Mhairi Mackenzie Robinson who was my boss at the Fringe in the 90s taught me an enormous amount. She instilled the importance of honesty, integrity and appreciating that everyone is different and has different motivations. She was fiercely loyal, and would always stand up for her staff and Fringe artists. I hope I’ve done that too.
What has been your favourite theatre or arts event?
Wow – too many to mention. Definitely at the Fringe where you can see the most outstanding, surprising, world class work. We’re an impartial organisation so it wouldn’t be appropriate to single out one particular event, but I have seen things here that have entertained, delighted and challenged my perception of myself and the world I live in. That’s pretty amazing!
What do you find most rewarding about working within the arts?
I’m passionate about the arts, their place in society and what they can do for us, and so I’m very privileged to do what I do. I’ve worked with the most extraordinary talented, dedicated, clever people, and working in this industry has made me feel like I’m part of a big family, which just knocks me out!
What is the best advice you would give to anyone looking for a career in arts management?
Do it. There are so many opportunities in the arts, and lots of companies and individuals who will provide chances to young people starting out. Seek out people or companies who inspire you and ask if you can be involved. Be prepared to work hard and take every opportunity to learn. And know you’re doing something you love.
Who would your Stellar Quine of the month be and why?
Wow, that’s difficult. So many to choose from. But I’m going to pick Faith Liddell. Faith and I worked together at the Fringe in the 90s and she’s just stepped down from her role as the founding director of Festivals Edinburgh. She is beautiful, talented, tenacious, clever and a fierce and articulate champion of what we do. And I’m proud to call her my friend. She properly is a stellar Quine!