Supporting the next generation of people working in the arts
'Thank you so much for the opportunity! All in all the week went really well for me, and I definitely learned a lot from it. It was a perfect opportunity to get a better understanding of administrative work and the running of an organisation such as Wigmore Hall, while still a full time student.'Sophie Dolamore, Concert and Administration Assistant at Wigmore Hall, who completed a work experience placement in March 2017
As part of Wigmore Hall’s Pathways programme we are delighted to offer week-long work experience placements, opening the doors to our busy and vibrant concert hall to share how we operate behind the scenes. Our aim is to ensure your placement provides you with a rich and varied experience in understanding how an arts institution, primarily a music venue, operates. Specialising in chamber and instrumental music, early music and song, Wigmore Hall is one of the world’s great concert halls, offering music making of outstanding quality and an array of activities in the broader community.
Wigmore Hall is a very busy venue with multiple rehearsals, workshops and concerts taking place nearly every day. Your role will involve joining the various departments that make up the administration staff at Wigmore Hall, including the Office of the Director, Marketing, Development, Learning, Publications, Archive, House Management, Box Office and Media.
A typical week might include shadowing a popular and lively BBC Radio 3 lunchtime concert, learning about our fascinating Archive, joining the Marketing department to help with copywriting and social media strategies, and welcoming participants to a range of Learning events. Placements are tailored to the interests of each participant, and you will always be with a friendly and experienced member of staff who will be happy to answer questions at any time.
Curious to hear firsthand feedback about work experience at Wigmore Hall? Read our blog entries from past applicants below!
Having graduated in the summer, I emailed Wigmore Hall asking if they would mind having me for a week long work experience placement whilst I tried to gain some experience, first hand, of work within a venue. Wallis very kindly responded to my email and I was overwhelmed with how helpful she was and how she had no problem replying to any of my concerns via email prier to my placement.
Monday 13 November 2017
From previous email conversations with Wallis I knew exactly how long my day at Wigmore hall would be as well as when my lunch breaks would be and what the dress code would be. This was very comforting when I turned up on Monday morning. I was greeted and many people at the venue were expecting me and knew my name straight away already! Wallis and I had a chat and discussed my timetable for the week and then I was taken straight upstairs to the House Manager's office to meet Natalie. I had a great morning with Natalie who showed me how to use Tessitura (a software used by most venues) and she let me have a go reserving some seats for some concerts. BBC radio 3 do a live concert broadcast every Monday at 1pm so the rest of the morning was spent preparing for that. In the afternoon I was introduced to Sophie in the Director's office. She taught me how to put together a contract and send them off to the agents of the artists. She then let me continue some on my own.
Tuesday 14 November
I spent the morning with the learning team singing with the choir for people with dementia. This was lots of fun, energetic, friendly and involved lots of cake! I was surprised to see what a great sound the leader of this choir got out of everyone with no help from sheet music or text in front of any of us. Everything was learnt aurally and it involved lots of 3 part harmony. In the afternoon I moved through to the Development department. They had me helping them to stuff invites into envelopes for a forthcoming event. This was a good opportunity for me to ask lots of questions about the hall, their role as a department, what they did before they worked here and much more. They were very helpful and lovely and friendly.
Wednesday 15 November
Today I was welcomed into the marketing department. They talked to me about their various roles in the department and put me to work straight away proof reading the new Summer brochure. After that I spent some time looking at the google analytics for the Wigmore Hall website. In the afternoon I spent some time in archives where Paula let me see some of the first ever programmes made for the first concerts ever produced by Wigmore Hall, these were so fascinating and really beautiful archives. After this I helped them to go through the programmes of previous years and made sure that there was only one of each in the boxes. Paula was very kind and let me sort through a lot of the programmes on my own, it was really interesting looking at all the varied concerts that Wigmore have held over the last few years! I returned to the marketing department after this and was involved in selecting the best photos of some performers to advertise their upcoming show. My insights were valued in this selection process which was great!
Thursday 16 November
This morning I helped Wallis out with preparing for the Key stage 3 years Schools concert. This was an interesting insight into the different preparations that different concerts need at Wigmore Hall. It was a very different set up to the Monday lunch time concert. We welcomed in the schools and showed them where to sit. Then we watch the concert with them which was excellent! We then sorted through the contents of the 'Learning' cupboard. After lunch I made a note of everything in the cupboard and typed up an inventory for the learning department. This task didn't take very long so I spent the rest of the day typing up the results from the feedback forms of various previous concerts and making certificates for children who had completed a words and music workshop. This was a wonderful opportunity for me to use some of my creativity!
Friday 17 November
As this was my last day I was welcomed into the box office to help out with the preparations for the lunchtime concert. I was introduced again to tessitura and helped with the bookings for the concert that morning and also for the evening. I dealt with customers and answered the phones. I found this very valuable as it let me see just how busy working in the box office can be! In the afternoon I was working back in the Directors office where I was put to work filling out forms for the foreign performers so that they can travel to the UK for the concert. I was left to do this alone and enjoyed working independently for this department.
Having now reflected on my week at Wigmore I cant stress enough how friendly and welcoming all of the staff were. How kind they were to me and how nothing was too much trouble. I benefited greatly from my week here as it really confirmed to me the areas that I would want to branch out into for my future career. I would recommend a work experience placement here to anyone looking for insight into a concert venue. Some of the week was spent shadowing and observing and some of it I spent working independently which created a perfect balance.
My first day of work experience with Wigmore Hall started in the learning department. The day started in the green room which for anyone interested in classical music is pretty exciting! The green room is where the artists meet backstage (the room is covered in signed photos of some of the most famous musicians!) I then moved up to the learning department office. I knew that Wigmore Hall had a large outreach programme but I couldn't have imagined that it would be so extensive in its provision. I was given an overview of the wonderful projects that Wigmore deliver both at the hall and in community areas. I was amazed by the degree to which the department focused on building relationships with disadvantaged people and the element of partnership and collaboration. I sorted through photos of previous events and immensely enjoyed seeing the transforming element to Wigmore Hall.
I started the second day in the learning department continuing with my jobs from the previous day before being called over my house management to reorganise the CDs published by Wigmore Hall Live in front of house. For the second half of my second day, I was with the marketing department. As someone who has little knowledge of marketing; I found it particularly interesting to see the way that different forms of marketing integrate and how vital marketing is in the success of an arts venue. I learnt about google AdWords and the process of online marketing and sponsoring. An added extra was hearing anecdotes about some of my favourite singers...it's easy to forget that Wigmore really does have the world's most successful and famous artists!
On my third day, I was with the marketing department again for the whole day. I continued the work I had done on AdWords from the previous day before being introduced to google analytics. Google analytics is a method of analysing data from all sorts of things such as the number of buys per click and the percentage of people who buy via different methods. This was all pretty new to me but it was very interesting indeed to see how technology can aid organisations to the extent it can. I then moved onto looking at the process of sending out emails on behalf of Wigmore Hall and using a programme called Wordfly.
I started my fourth day with the Director's Office, this is where the majority of the programming goes on and where the communications of the director are managed. I learned how the programme for the hall was planned far in advance and how amazingly there are over 400 concerts and events each year at the hall. I spent some more time learning about tessitura (the online database) and how it aids the easy running of the programme. After lunch I was with the Box Office, learning about customer service in the box office itself and the runnings of the box office behind the scenes such as how the seats are categorised and who receives which seat etc. I also had some exposure to dealing with ticket enquiries which helped to get a better knowledge of tessitura.
On my final day I started off in development; the department that looks after membership schemes and donations, I found it very interesting to find about the manner in which the hall nurtures relationships with donors. I then finished off in learning before going back to marketing to do a few more tasks including editing some PR and looking over the next period's brochure.
I have had a wonderful time at Wigmore and have enjoyed working with the lovely employees massively and getting an insight into a real range of departments. I couldn't recommend work experience with Wigmore enough. Work experience at Wigmore Hall has been an immensely interesting and valuable experience; I feel very privileged to have worked at such a fantastic organisation and look forward to returning soon!
Today I got behind the scenes of Wigmore Hall. I was excited to arrive back again - this time not with a Chamber Zone ticket in my hand, but rather anticipation of what a week-long work placement would look like. I was greeted with smiles at the Box Office, and then met Wallis from the Learning department who briefed me on my weekly schedule.
First stop was Marketing, where I was given a crash course on writing sales copy for Wigmore’s in house label, Wigmore Hall Live, and jumped right into writing some myself. It was a bit intimidating at first, wanting to get it right the first time. But I found it very interesting, as it required research into the performers and the programs, and a bit of creative writing. John, who I was assisting, gave me great constructive feedback, helping me get one into shape enough to use on the Hall’s website.
By 1pm we were on our way to a BBC Lunchtime Concert, where we watched the Gallicantus ensemble sing a beautiful program of renaissance music, entitled Queen Mary’s Big Belly – really catching my interest!
After lunch I went on to the Learning department, where I got a good overview of the roles and responsibilities from members in the office. I helped with a few tasks, such as sorting family event pictures of a into “Best” and “Rest” files, which took a surprisingly significant amount of time, and researching online resources for music teachers.
Today started off with cuteness overload, helping oversee the For Crying Out Loud! hour-long concert for parents/carers and their babies under 1 year. It was a great insight into the type of programs the Learning department offers, and to understand how they run and who attends. Never did I see so many pushchairs and babies in one room! It is a rarity for babies to be free to make as much noise as they want in a concert hall, and equally for parents to be able to walk about freely with their child during a performance.
The second half of the day was spent back with Marketing – this time getting a great overview of Tessitura, Photoshop, WordFly email templates, and social media. The way in which the Marketing department interacts with all of these programs/media outlets is extremely important for the success of the organization, therefore essential to understand. I was given the task to create twitter posts for various upcoming concerts. Interviews, pictures, soundclips or videos are usually most successful for social media advertising and interaction, and for some artists you need to dig deep to find these. Again I was given constructive feedback, and after a few edits created something that was suitable enough to be posted on the Wigmore Hall’s Facebook and Twitter pages.
Today was spent primarily with the Director’s Office/Concert Management department, up at the top floor of the administrative office building. The first hour I was shown how to use Artefacts, the database for all information regarding artists and concerts at Wigmore Hall, as well as the templates for writing up artist contracts. The majority of the day was spent gathering information and writing a list of contracts that needed to be done for that week. This was the first instance during my work placement that I felt very useful – assisting with a task that needed to be done as soon as possible, while giving the others in the office more time to complete other necessary work.
Partway through the afternoon, we walked back to the main building for the department operations meeting, where I observed the weekly events briefing. This was a good opportunity to see how the different departments interact, all in preparation for specific events. It is essential to have this type of communication between departments to avoid any unforeseen problems or mishaps. Everyone was very welcoming towards my presence there.
The morning was spent with Publications, with only one other person in the office. My duty for the first couple hours was to help proofread the programs and program notes for upcoming concerts. There are two rounds of proofing that always need to be done, by separate people, in order to make sure of any missed mistakes or new edits made before the final printing stage.
This was a good way to understand the writing or ‘house’ style of Wigmore Hall, and what is expected in each program. A high level of detailed review was necessary, and everything – including artist bios – had to be double checked and confirmed. Depending on the program note writer, there were occasions where I found it really difficult to read, let alone edit. But the longer time I spent with it, the more I knew what to look out for.
After a nice and sunny lunch break, I joined the Box Office team. Besides sorting the evening’s concert tickets into envelopes, I mostly observed the afternoon happenings. We had a number of interesting characters come to the box office asking for information about tickets and upcoming concerts, as well as a wide range of phone calls. It was a great look into customer service, which really is the most important part of box office work. They are in most cases the first point of contact for audience members and interested visitors, and the reputation of the Hall must be upheld.
Much of the duties of the afternoon I could not do myself without proper training. However, between phone calls, some of the staff managed to give me a good overview of the Tessitura system, and how it works specific to booking tickets and filing customer information, etc.
My final day came quickly! But I had been looking forward to spending the morning observing the Music for Thought session for people living with dementia. Again, this was another good look into what types of programs the Learning department offers, and how they are run. I myself have had a few years experience working with the elderly population and dementia patients in nursing homes, and really understood the value of music for these people. The Music for Thought was certainly unique from what I had experienced before, and I took away a lot from it.
After tea and coffee was served for everyone, the musicians spread out in a circle, inviting guests to sit in between them. Throughout the hour there was singing, improvisation with various percussive instruments, and a little conducting! All creative outlets that can be so important for people, no matter what their age or health. It certainly got me in the spirit as well!
My final afternoon was spent in the Development department, sorting and filing memberships. With the help of a Beyoncé soundtrack (A Friday tradition for the department), I sifted through piles of membership records, and sorted them into date order and level: Members, Supporters, Benefactors, and Patrons. Even though this task was not very difficult, it was still essential for record keeping and for the organization of the department, and takes quite a significant amount of time.
Overall, my week spent with Wigmore Hall was a great opportunity to get a look into the type of roles and responsibilities of many of the administrative departments of a major concert venue – an experience that cannot really be had outside of a work placement such as this. For someone like me who wants to peruse arts administration work, it was certainly worth doing. Everyone was very welcoming throughout the week, and could not have been nicer!
A REFLECTION ON MY REMARKABLE WEEK
WHAT DID MY TIME AT THE HALL ENTAIL?
Stepping through the ‘Artistes Entrance’ around the back of the venue for the first time produced a new and sudden wave of emotion – exhilaration, anticipation and inspiration, all at once. This feeling persisted throughout the week, as the excitement never seemed to wear off!
Upon my arrival, Wallis Leahy (Learning Coordinator at Wigmore Hall) greeted me with a huge smile and introduced me to the venue along with my detailed timetable, which revealed more about the clockwork behind the organization each day. Throughout the course of the week, I visited almost every department which differed from office-based roles such as those in Marketing and Development to the more hands-on responsibilities found through Singing with Friends and Chamber Tots. These Learning schemes particularly caught my interest as they focused on elements of Community Wellbeing which is a possible career path I am considering.
My daily routine would consist of a simple commute into Marylebone and a short walk to the Hall, where I would be met by a contact representing their area of work. Typically, I would spend the morning with one department; having conversations with staff, finding out what their specific roles entailed and carrying out some general tasks useful to the organization on that particular day. An hour’s lunch break would provide a short preparation time for the afternoon, which I would spend with another department – a direct contrast between different areas of work every day proved to be really useful in helping me reflect on the week and achieve personal goals I had set myself in lieu of the placement.
It has proven challenging to pinpoint the most enjoyable characteristic of the week, as observing each department has stimulated different perspectives and an array of skills. The notable respect and willingness each member of staff, regardless of age and experience, expressed in taking time out of their busy working day to talk with me and guide me through their role was remarkable. No question was too big or too small, no laugh was insincere; I was welcomed as part of a team who strived towards celebrating music and sharing it with the community. Perhaps the most rewarding element of my overall encounter with the Hall was being able to see how the organisation really works by the end of the week. Peculiarly, the analogy between the organization and a cake seems apt here: from an outside perspective, the complete product does not convey the challenges faced making it, despite its many surprising components.
However, each individual slice of the cake must be both present and equal else it would not achieve its desired aesthetic – ultimately, without each slice, the cake would never be whole… just like a business!
The principal incentive to welcome new and different opportunities has been the driving force of personal progression throughout my life – I know that I benefit hugely from pushing myself outside of my comfort zone and in doing so, gain more opportunities to meet others and learn from them. A predominant lesson I have learned from this week is that work experience does not have to consist of shadowing and performing tasks but could in fact constitute anything from an inspiring conversation to careful observation. Thank you for having me, Wigmore Hall!
You can apply for a work experience placement if:
We offer week-long Monday – Friday placements for a total of 35 hours including a one hour lunch break per day. The scheduled hours may vary each day in accordance of the events you will be assisting with, but this will be discussed via email with the work experience coordinator prior to your arrival.
Although work experience at Wigmore Hall is not a paid opportunity, a contribution of £50 towards travel and food expenses are reimbursed at the end of your placement.
Wigmore Hall believes in equality, and that no individual should experience abuse of any kind. We are committed to the safeguarding of children and adults at risk, and the wellbeing and safety of every child and adult at risk is of paramount importance in our work. We welcome work experience applicants to engage with our commitment to safeguarding by reading Appendix 6 of our safeguarding policy which gives reference to the key elements.
We are committed to increasing the diversity of our workforce and strongly welcome applications from candidates from all backgrounds and abilities.
We have temporarily closed the application process as all work experience placements at Wigmore Hall during 2020 have now been allocated. We will re-open the application process later in the year.
'I feel I had a good overview of all the departments that I was personally interested in knowing more about. I was also given meaningful tasks throughout the day, really gaining tangible experience!'Previous Work Experience Participant