Case study of a Severn Arts Assistant Producer

Maria-Magdalena has always been involved in the arts. In her home in Bulgaria, she used to sing in a choir and play the piano. When she was 7, she started acting classes and was scouted to be in a play – Medea – to play one of Medea’s children. She also did voice overs for Disney’s Jungle Book and to translate adverts into Bulgarian.

Maria-Magdalena had always intended to leave Bulgaria and come to the UK and did so to study BA Drama and Performance and then an integrated Masters in Theatre at the University of Worcester. She graduated in October 2019 and started as a Producing Intern at Severn Arts in December 2019 with the opportunity to experience all of the different elements that make a festival.

Since working at Severn Arts, Maria-Magdalena has had to learn about production management, event management contracting, artist liaising, volunteer coordination, site visits, and technicalities around installations. During her Masters, she worked on theatre tours but she describes festival production as “ten-times” more complex than theatre production because of the greater number of stakeholders, the larger number of settings (which requires knowledge of licensing, traffic management, and utilities) and the wider risks because of the environment and freedom of the audience.

"I never felt I was just an intern."

In November 2021, Maria-Magdalena was promoted to the role of Assistant Producer at Severn Arts. With this came more responsibility, more decision making and greater workload management. The promotion has given her a real sense of achievement and given her more confidence in her knowledge and capability.

For Maria-Magdalena, being a Producing Intern and Assistant Producer particularly developed her critical thinking skills. The roles have required her to be able to see things in detail, to plan, and to flex that thinking to identify potential risks: “I need to be able to see potential hazards, or technical requirements, or implications in terms of where the audience will be channelled and where security should be. I need to ensure the details of contracts are correct, complete and clear, that I have covered all bases; I need to understand how performances interrelate, how the walkabouts have to fit aesthetically and thematically, but also be distinct.” 

Maria-Magdalena looks forward to and loves reading the evaluation reports because she can see what works and what didn't and identify things that need to change. The evaluation for Light Night Worcester 2020 identified challenges in terms of accessibility so for Light Night Worcester 2021 she did everything she could to address that.

Maria-Magdalena feels that Worcester is very hungry for the arts – “It needs the arts desperately.” When she was at University the students were always looking for events to attend and there was nothing. The University tutors took them to Birmingham, Stratford and London, never to a show in Worcester. One of the reasons Maria-Magdalena applied to Severn Arts was because she saw the need for the Arches project and she feels so much joy seeing it coming into being. Her main driver is to provide opportunities for young people in Worcester so they can stay after university. Her work on Tales of Your Palace, as part of Light Night Worcester 2021, already contributed to this vision, which is a great source of satisfaction.

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