Backstage at The Lowry: Emma Charnley – Policy & Development Assistant

Emma Charnley

It’s a Monday morning at Salford Quays and I’m in the Quay Club doing a stock check – we need more wine, crisps and nuts (as always) and I need to replace the candles. Just one of the many unusual tasks I find myself doing as a member of the Development Team.

You may not know what the Quay Club is, or where it is for that matter! But it’s an important part of what we do in Development, and a crucial element of my role.

The Quay Club is our exclusive members lounge, where our supporters, Patrons and Corporate Members are able to enjoy pre-show drinks and nibbles before a performance, and where we host key stakeholders and VIPs. As you enter the Foyer, look up – and the Quay Club is right in front of you!

“I honestly can’t imagine doing anything else…”

As the Policy & Development Assistant it’s my job to manage the Quay Club, ensuring it is always fully stocked, and planning the rota of Hosts to look after our guests.

I have been a part of the Development team here at the Lowry for two years, and in that time I have also found myself on a golf course (in rain and shine), mingling among Peers of the Realm at the House of Lords, and completing a whistle-stop tour of all major London galleries and museums in one single day armed only with a camera and a trusty Oyster card.

I’ll admit I ‘fell into’ Development at The Lowry, after coming from two theatres in London – I worked in the Community & Education teams for both the Little Angel Theatre in Islington and then the Orange Tree Theatre in Richmond.

Relocating to Manchester meant I had to find a job which suited my transferable skills – I found myself working as the administrator for Anxiety UK, a mental health charity based in Hulme in Manchester.

But I always knew I wanted to come back to the arts, and having been to The Lowry many times on school trips I always had my eye on a career here. When my current role became available, I jumped at the chance.

Initially this was a part-time position, and it matched a lot of the administrative skills I had developed over recent years. It was my job to manage the Quay Club, co-ordinate invites and RSVPs for our many events and support the team with event delivery, arrange mail-outs, and a thousand-and-one other things besides.

Quay Club, The Lowry

The Quay Club is hidden away behind the Circle seats in the Lyric Auditorium

After a year I incorporated another element to my job, that of application management to small-medium Trusts and Foundations. This enabled me to become full-time, which I was delighted to do, and the new responsibility made use of my essay-writing skills and a fondness for very exact formatting – finely tuned over a three-year English Literature degree!

I just love this part of my job – it’s quite creative, and it means I have to delve into all sorts of activities and projects across the building, to find out as much as I can about the work that goes on here to use in my applications. It’s also hugely rewarding when that email or letter comes through telling me I’ve been successful.

I honestly can’t imagine doing anything else here at The Lowry. I think I’m in a really fortunate role which enables me to work with everyone right across the organisation… admittedly, asking for favours most of the time! It means I feel right at the heart of the action.

I get to see world-class performances, mix with celebrities, see first-hand the amazing work we do with young people in Salford… not to mention stick hundreds of labels on hundreds of envelopes and put up banners in the pouring rain.

So next time you’re in The Lowry, and you see the signs for the Quay Club, you’ll know what’s behind that frosted glass and big wooden door. And I’ll probably be in there, replacing the candles.

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