With so many talented, inspiring, excellent women in the world (we are half the population after all) its a rather daunting task to make some kind of shortlist. But in honour of International Women’s Day I’m going to give it a go, focusing on those women who help and inspire me personally in the course of my work.
The Other Way Works is and always has been female led (by me – Katie Day, and also at the start with the wonderful Jane Packman as well). Starting out as a didactic feminist outfit, we continue to create work collaboratively and often focus on telling the stories of marginalised female characters (see the overly sheltered daughter ‘Debs’ in Avon Calling, and the Polish hotel chambermaid ‘Lena’ in Black Tonic).
So, here are the excellent women …
Janice, Jess & Rachel from Women & Theatre
Generous in every way, these brilliant women are always on hand around the office with advice ranging from budgets to company governance to childcare tips. W&T has been working at the coal face of theatre in community settings for over 30 years, with energy, positivity and a good helping of humour. I’m very grateful to them for taking me under their wing.
Alison Gagen has been working in the theatre team at Arts Council England West Midlands’ office for as long as I’ve been working professionally, which is extraordinary in this sector where people move roles every five minutes. She’s a committed, hard working, strategic advocate for the region’s theatre sector, and I’ve greatly benefited from the knowledge and experience she’s amassed over the years. As The Other Way Works’ primary funder since its inception, my relationship with Arts Council England is key. In today’s stripped-back Arts Council I feel so lucky to be able to meet up and chat face to face with Alison, someone who knows me and my work, and whose opinion I always trust.
As Director of BOM (Birmingham Open Media) Karen is a relative newcomer to my network. My respect for her attitude to artists and her facilitative approach led me to apply for a BOM fellowship, which I was recently awarded. This means that I am currently a 2017 BOM Fellow, able to participate in the BOM community of practicing makers across arts, science and technology. It should be an interesting year!
Delia is Director of Cultural Engagement at the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust and has been Chair of The Other Way Works’ Board of Directors since 2012. Joining just at the time that I went off on maternity leave, she has seen the Company through many phases, including our recent move to become a registered charity. I hugely value her time, encouragement, willingness to listen to yet another one of my crazy ideas, and her commitment to keeping the Company moving forwards. I wish her all the best in her own upcoming maternity leave, and look forward to her re-joining us at board meetings later this year.
It was a privilege to work with and learn from Clare when I took up a one year placement in 2009 to work in her (then) small team at Watershed Bristol to produce the UK wide Theatre Sandbox development scheme.
Openness, passion, a sense of fun, curiosity, and good old fashioned hard work has seen Clare promoted to Creative Director at Watershed and expand her teams and projects in new and always exciting areas. She’s very inspirational to me in the way that she leads, and the role she plays in the male-dominated tech sector.
Katherine Maxwell Rose and Louise Platt
Katherine and Lou are founder members of The Other Way Works, and much of the Company’s work has been made in collaboration with one or other of these wonderful pair. There have been so many valuable and creative times working on projects but two favourite moments are: Travelling across land and sea over 3 days to Greece with Katherine to work on design and shoot the film content for Black Tonic in early 2008; and re-creating Lou’s most treasured memory for her as a 30 second immersive physical and audio experience during our R&D retreat for the Afterlife project in 2014. They both have their own successful creative practices these days as editor/budding novelist and dramatherapist, but I always cherish the times when we can get together to create.
Working as a university lecturer all her working life showed me that, as a woman and a mother, it’s not just possible, but normal to do a job that you love and that keeps challenging you.
I’m also hugely grateful for her incredible childcare support in recent years, without which many of my work commitments would not have been possible.
And lastly it feels important to credit those from the ‘invisible’ female workforce that facilitate my own ability to work: Virginia my daughter’s childminder; and Simone who cleans our house every fortnight.
Do follow International Women’s Day’s hashtag #BeBoldForChange today and lets all stand together for equality for women here in the UK, and across the world.