IWCEP - Cultural Education Partnership Ident - Teal, Pink and Fern
Fulfilling the creative potential of young people on the Isle of Wight

Mhairi Macaulay – Creative and Operations Director (Events)

Employer: Ventnor Exchange CIC
Middle School: Ventnor Middle
Secondary School: Medina High
Where do you live and work now? Ventnor IOW

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Was there an experience you had at school that made you want to go into the area of work you are in now?

I found a love of events after independently going to gigs and festivals from the age of 13 because of the electric atmosphere. I saw it as an industry I could fit into as a bit of a weird misfit. I was very quiet growing up and forcing myself into situations with lots of people helped me to find my voice and confidence to be a leader in an exciting and supportive environment.   

What are the main roles and responsibilities of your job?

Creative leadership, financial administration, staffing and building operations. We are a small team so we have a few different roles in one which is not standard.

Could you briefly share a bit about your career journey? (What did you study? How did you end up where you are today?)

I studied Fine Art Drawing at Camberwell College of Art (University of Arts London) because I always wanted to go to art school and set that as my challenge but when I got there I realised I did not want to work on my own practice as much but to support others and create events to bring people together. I learnt about Socially Engaged Practice and knew that was the art form I wanted to focus on.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

The connection between people. Collective effervescence. 

What is the hardest thing about your job?

The risk involved reputation wise and financially, creates huge amounts of stress due to the pressure which takes a toll on mental health as someone who already has anxiety, it can be difficult. 

What skills or attributes do you believe have been crucial to your success in your career?

Skills: communication, teamwork, flexibility, attention to detail, problem solving, observation, listening, leadership and the ability to self evaluate or critique is very important !

Attributes: patience, fairness, keeping calm in dynamic environments and defiance against doubt – the sheer determination to keep going!

If you could give advice to someone aspiring to have a job like you, what would it be?

1) If you want something to happen you have to create it yourself.

2) Never make someone else do a job you wouldn’t do yourself.

3) Always speak up when you make a mistake – everyone does and it is OK but it’s better to get help to solve it.

What do you think was a benefit about growing up on the Isle of Wight?

Freedom to roam safely – it was our playground as kids.

What was the most difficult thing about growing up on the Isle of Wight?

Small mindedness was still a barrier in early 2000’s. It is definitely a bit more progressive now, talking to our young team members. The attitude was frustrating but it galvanised us.

What do you want to do next?

I hope to go back to University to study psychology as it was the only non art subject I was interested in and good at. I am interested in going into counselling in the future, possibly art therapy or psychotherapy.

How can we connect with the work you do?

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