Putting creativity at the heart of events: Meet Project Co-ordinator Alice
After studying and practicing architecture, Alice discovered that she enjoyed working on collaborative and cross-disciplinary creative projects and decided to veer from the path to becoming an architect. After spending several years working in creative and community arts-based settings, whilst studying for a Creative Industries Management MA at Northumbria University, Alice went on to become part of the Membership Experience team at the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), where she supported North East members and delivered a variety of regional and national events and initiatives, before joining the team here at BeaconHouse in November 2023.
An advocate of the power of creativity to connect people and spark joy, we caught up with Alice to find out why she decided a career in events was for her, how she gets creative in her free time, and how playing in a steel band has allowed her to travel the world.
Hi Alice! You joined the team back in November, what have you been working on so far?
I’ve joined the team at a really busy time of year, and as a project co-ordinator my role so far has been to support the event teams to deliver their busy programme as we come up to the end of the year – I’ve been involved with everything from awards dinners to Christmas parties and it’s been really eye-opening to see the level of detail that goes into each one. One of the first major projects that I supported was the Dynamites Awards back in November and next year I’m looking forward to being part of the team delivering TechNExt24 when it takes over the region again in June. The tech sector is completely new to me and already I’m enjoying the complexity of the types of businesses that are involved and how the planning for the festival is developing.
Tell me about your career before you joined BeaconHouse Events.
I studied architecture at Glasgow School of Art in Glasgow and came back to Newcastle to work in a practice in the Ouseburn Valley. Glasgow School of Art is Mackintosh’s most celebrated building and has international significance, so getting the chance to study there was fantastic and I met some amazing people.
I enjoyed working in the practice, but to be honest my heart wasn’t really in it and during that time I went to deliver an architecture ambassador programme in schools where we led workshops and I loved it. After that revelation, I started to focus on what I was passionate about and pivoted my career into community arts, including working with a community events space in Newcastle City Centre. I really valued the opportunity to be more creative, and ultimately I combined everything that I enjoyed about working with people and organising opportunities for them to connect and share ideas with my understanding of the architecture space and joined the team at the Royal Institute of British Architects.
I think architecture and events are quite similar, to be honest. With both sectors, you see the finished, shiny product and don’t always appreciate the months of planning, skills, and detail that go into making it robust and fit for purpose.
What made you decide to join the team here at BeaconHouse?
I enjoyed my role at RIBA, it was a really wide-ranging job where I looked after everything from running member events, supporting member communications and relationships, recording podcasts, and organizing student mentoring but I felt like it was time for a change, and wanted a new opportunity to work with colleagues in a collaborative space every day I saw the role at BeaconHouse advertised and did some research on the culture of the business and it was exactly what it said on the tin! The team has been so supportive while I’ve been settling in and the culture is exactly what I was hoping for. It is fascinating to listen to the conversations going on in the office and see how everyone’s range of expertise and experience all fit together and how everyone supports each other, I’ve never felt like I was asking a silly question or didn’t have something valuable to add.
You are very creative both in and out of work – do you think that is important in the events sector?
Creativity is really important to me. Coming from an architecture background I was used to drawing a lot and having a creative outlet. In lockdown, I started a small arts business called Cards of Kindness where I make North East themed cards and paper gifts that I hope will make people smile. All of my designs are hand drawn and then digitally coloured, and it gives me a chance to switch off and do something just because I enjoy it.
I think space for creativity and innovation is incredibly important in the events sector, it isn’t just the “nice to haves” or the stuff that looks pretty, creativity in the planning process is how to avoid stagnating and creates those moments of surprise or ease that brings an experience together. Recently I saw some of the signage for an upcoming event arriving in the office and the level of creativity and thought that had gone into a relatively small detail was amazing, that attention to detail and creativity is the difference between a delegate having a meaningful, positive experience or not.
What do you think is surprising about the event industry?
I know other people have mentioned this, but I hadn’t appreciated the length of time or the percentage of research and desk work that goes into making any event happen. It is the skill and hard work of the team that makes it look easy!
I think it is important to remember that it isn’t all about big ideas too, there are lots of things to consider with the creative elements, like the client brief, the budget, the space available, and the delegates, it is much easier to have lots of great creative ideas but it takes a skilled team to achieve them, that takes a lot of strategic thinking and attention to detail.
You play in a steel band outside of the office, tell us about that!
I’ve played in North Tyneside Steel Band for almost 20 years and it is a huge part of my life. I play steel pan and I came up through the youth band and now I sit on the board of trustees for the charity. I have been lucky enough to travel around the world performing, including a number of trips to Trinidad to play with the Panorama Champions Renegades Steel Orchestra which was the most indescribable & amazing experience.
I started playing in middle school – they had a set of pans and at lunchtime, I’d stand and watch the school band rehearse through the window! I hadn’t ever even seen a steelpan before and I still feel really lucky that my school even had a set of pans. I started playing shortly after that. At first, it was just a weekly session on a Friday evening after school but then my tutor recommended that I join North Tyneside Steelband who were/are the local community band. I’ve been playing ever since and got involved with tutoring in schools as a younger leader from being 13 with ‘Steelbands North.’ It’s the best thing I’ve ever been involved with and it’s influenced so many aspects of my life.
Who would your dream client be?
That’s a hard question! Like I say, I love music and I would love to create a festival-type experience which celebrates lots of cultures and different types of music here in Newcastle! I do think that there is an opportunity to bring inspiration from these vibrant events to the kind of experiences we create at BeaconHouse and I’m a big advocate for the power of music to create something really special.
To find out more about how BeaconHouse Events can support your business to deliver events with purpose in 2024 and beyond, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Posted on December 18, 2023