Pauline Hadaway is an arts manager Starting out as a working artist, she moved into management and is currently the director of the Belfast Exposed art gallery.
Finding a place for artistic work
Although Pauline has written plays that have gone on tour and won her acclaim, she prefers to take charge of large projects and develop opportunities in the arts for other people.
Pauline’s own early development in theatre was made possible by a welcoming theatrical environment around the People’s Theatre in Newcastle. She had been able to act in youth theatre and later, when she wanted to write plays, she knew who to send her ideas to.
Her job with Belfast Exposed is her third in arts management and she is hoping to develop radical ideas for how a photographic exhibition space might be used. She is interested in issues that stimulate public debate, such as the curtailment of photographers in public places by the police under anti-terror laws.
She envisions creating a large programme of events that enable artists and community arts groups to air their political concerns.
Hadaway believes that people are not going to thrive as photographers or playwrights in a city that does not encourage and enable those artforms. She wants to be one of the enablers.
“It’s not all about what you want; it has a lot to do with what's available, infrastructure. If there is nothing available, you don't get the idea to do it.”
Getting into an arts organisation
“People often need to be prepared to take on the most boring and repetitive work- from stuffing envelopes to mopping gallery floors -- but also need to look for skills gaps in organisations and offer their services accordingly.”
It's about looking around to see what needs to be done, the jobs that others are not doing very well. Often it will be work that involves a computer.
Pauline says the best way to get a job like hers is to “make yourself useful.”
“Being able to research, build and manage a database is a sure way to win the affection of a busy curator, as is researching funders.”
So don't just wait to be told what to do, look around for opportunities to initiate small projects and to find ways to fund them. Unfortunately, to get ahead in the arts, creatives often have to volunteer or work for low pay, or get a day job in an unrelated field to pay the bills.
As a manager, would Hadaway advance someone who came in to Belfast Exposed to work part-time while earning a low wage in a shop?
“If I saw someone with that kind of CV now I would say, here is someone who is realistic enough to know that they have to earn a crust and is hard working. They’re not too precious about themselves, but prepared to get alongside people in the real world and also to write or get involved in amateur theatre, or whatever.”
Challenges in arts administration
As an arts administrator she is required to manage competing interests:
- Market. Some people will judge success only by the audience size.
- Policy. Funders have their own expectations and want to see them met. An arts administrator has to make sure that the organisation meets the objectives that were laid down in funding applications.
- Artistic vision. Don't dilute the vision of artists to draw in more people or to placate funders; try to manage all these considerations in harmony.
Hadaway tries to maintain the “synergy between the managerial and the creative mindset. You have to make lists. I get introduced to people and I tend to forget. If you are a curator you can't afford to do that, you have to google people and know who they are, because the networks are very important.
“Deadlines don't take holidays. Once I was stuck in the office filling out a funding application on St Patrick's Day while everyone else was out enjoying themselves. You have to accept that.”