Backstage at The Lowry: Ray Dean – Hospitality Assistant

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Sometimes it’s a case of “Coach!”

It can be very quiet but then suddenly there’s a queue 20 people deep and you’re right up against it.

Because when you get off a coach, what thing do you first want? A nice cup of tea and a sandwich. And that’s fine, we can deal with that.

I’m an interactive artist, and I studied at Manchester Metropolitan. I do a lot of video photography and performance.

Most of the people who work in catering here are artists, actors or musicians. A lot of people working here are on a casual basis, while they’re studying or suchlike.

This is a great environment for an artist to be in.

“We do get some regulars; people who come to see lots of theatre or exhibitions, or perhaps live or work locally and just pop in…”

Today I’m working in the Tower Coffee Shop. I like it, because we’re situated right underneath the galleries.

We get customers here who are going to see exhibitions, so you often have chats about LS Lowry or the current Here’s One We Made Earlier exhibition.

You can ask both children or adults what their favourite pieces were – I often ask about Bagpuss or Basil Brush. Did you know his tail is a genuine fox’s tail?

But it’s not all chatting – just before a theatre show it’s a case of doing as many teas, coffees and sandwiches as you can in a short space of time.

It can get very, very busy and there’s not always time to interact with customers, but on a rainy day like today you often get a bit of time. And that’s always nice.

We do get some regulars; people who come to see lots of theatre or exhibitions, or perhaps live or work locally and just pop in.

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The Tower Coffee Shop is open seven days a week.

If you wanted to work in catering here at The Lowry you need to come with a good attitude, a good sense of humour (which is essential in catering). And you need to be able to step up and graft as you’ve never any idea what’s coming round the corner.

A good team spirit is the main thing, because working together either makes it or breaks it.

I’m originally from York – I’m a Yorkshire lass, and a lot of my family’s from Yorkshire. I used to work in pyrotechnics and as a freelance artist for many years.

But I live in Whalley Range now – I’ve worked here for a year-and-a-half and have lived in or around Manchester since the early-90s. I’m more than an honorary Mancunian.

I do have tattoos and body art, and customers sometimes comment, often about my Keith Haring tattoos. Woodstock from Snoopy is one of my favourites.

Hospitality is our department. The dictionary definition is: “The friendly and generous reception and entertainment of guests and strangers.”

“All the world’s a stage,” as Shakespeare says. “Each man and woman in their time plays many parts.” The show must go on, so let us entertain you!

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