Fiona Hope, board member
Last year I was given the amazing opportunity to join the board of trustees for Middle Child. I had lots of chats with artistic director Paul and executive director Lindsey about what it means to be on the board and the kind of responsibilities that entails, but I still wasn’t entirely sure what to expect walking into the first meeting.
Being only nineteen, with little professional experience, it was extremely daunting walking into a room of such incredible talent, but I was so quickly taken under everybody’s wing and shown that my view as a young person was so important to the company. Middle Child are all about developing young artists in Hull and one of their target audiences is people aged between 18- 34, which is a demographic I fit into and can hopefully share insight to.
Over the past few years I’ve begun to develop my understanding of how theatre works behind the scenes, as my ambition is to start a theatre company once I graduate from university. Previously I had only experienced the creative side of theatre, such as performing and directing. However joining the board for Middle Child has let me learn about running a company in a hands-on way, as well as mean I can give back to the company.
Conversations in board meetings have included talking about the goals and targets set by the company and what steps are being taken to grow and develop, such as how funding is applied for and used, and what they are doing to reach audiences and develop artists. These meetings have taught me about different bands of funding, audience engagement methods and how to not just keep a company running, but also be innovative and successful.
In particular, before attending a meeting I had no idea about finance and production but Rozzy, who is Lindsey’s maternity cover, went over everything so calmly and in detail, which was so useful and beneficial. Some of the things I have learnt about are fundraising, Arts Council applications, budgeting and cashflow forecasts. With Middle Child having been awarded NPO status Paul and Lindsey also explained what this means for funding and why the board is so crucial in maintaining this status.
Since joining the board, I have directed a show for a local theatre company She Productions, had a show at the Edinburgh fringe festival and completed some smaller projects at University. My experience on the board of trustees definitely helped me with these projects as I have a better understanding of the wider picture of theatre making and how to resolve some production issues should they arise, such as where sacrifices need to be made for the sake of the budget. I am still learning so much every meeting and am so grateful for the experience that I know I will use in the future to develop my career in theatre.