As part of the Alumni Blog series, I caught up with Rachael Hastie to find out, among other things, why she chose CMCI’s MA Arts & Cultural Management course, what transferable skills she developed whilst on the course, and to ask what advice she would give to students and graduates looking go into the events/festival industry or dance sector.
Rachael Hastie is a recent CMCI graduate having completed the MA Arts and Cultural Management course in 2020.
She was the recipient of the Culture Media and Creative Industries Prize, awarded for the best collaborative dissertation in the department. Her dissertation was titled ‘Dancing with Diversity: Assessing the impact that inclusion of dance into primary school curriculum has on young people with Specific Learning Difficulties (SpLDs),through The Place’s dance education programme’. Rachael’s work experience begins with a role of Freelance Creative Producer for On the Rocks, a Scottish Student Arts Festival, where she provided both vision and administration, co-ordinating and managing ten novice choreographers. Since then, she has worked as a Supervisor at Gorgeous Café, a Barista during Edinburgh Fringe Festival and a Visitor Operations Assistant for Historic Environment Scotland. Rachael also has been volunteering as a Production Assistant for Pride in London and is currently working as the Interim Classes and Courses Coordinator (Youth Focused) at The Place.
Firstly, why did you choose to study the MA Arts and Cultural Management course? And why at the CMCI Department at King’s College?
Originally, I did my undergraduate in Geography as a BSc(hons) which I loved. However, while I was there, I was highly involved with the Dance Club which I taught for, produced shows for, was an event coordinator for and then eventually the President off. My role there allowed me to realise that coordinating and arts company really highlighted both my passions to bring dance in all its forms to as many different people as possible and also where my true skills in leadership and logistics lay. As a result, I knew I wanted to pursue a career in the Arts world. However, I was worried that employers would be put off by my non arts-based degree and where I tried to find a job in the arts industry after my undergraduate I was not having any luck so I started at looking at more specialised masters. The course that Kings offers was one of the few I found that covered the management of the arts industry specifically with practical workshop-based experience which suited my learning style in a location I wanted to be in that would contribute to providing me with potential job opportunities post masters. Also the CMCI department at Kings had lecturers in a lot of my main interests namely cultural heritage, entrepreneurship, policy and festivals. These factors combined with Kings reputation in the UK led me to apply.
What did you learn whilst on the MA Arts and Cultural Management course and how did it prepare you for your current role? And were any transferable skills that you developed during your MA which still help you today?
I guess the main skill I learnt as part of the masters would be perseverance and self-belief that I was skilled enough and had the relevant experience to be in the industry – I have Jonathan Gross and Kate McMillan particularly to thank for that. Also I loved the insight into the different arts organisations that the second semester module gave us and it was really useful for me to learn about the thinking and processes behind funding decisions made by the government/awarding bodies to the arts and I use that knowledge every day in my current role. Additionally, I had the amazing experience of doing a collaborative dissertation with The Place which was one of my top organisations to learn from and work with while in London and I believe that my work on my dissertation with The Place heavily contributed to the me getting the role I am in now with them.
From your work history it appears that you prefer roles in the events/festival industry and the dance sector, would you agree that this is an accurate observation? and if so, what is it about these sectors that appeals to you and what advice would you give to students and graduates looking to go into your line of work and these industries?
Yes absolutely, I’ve been a dancer my whole life and really wanted to contribute to the great impact it has on so many people as dancing has been such a huge positive part of mine. Also, I’ve grown up in Edinburgh surrounded by the Fringe Festival and love the collaborative nature of festivals and how they always have something on offer to suit everyone. I guess my main piece of advice is if you’re truly passionate about working in the industry stick at it, keep applying. Also go to as many talks and events as you can to meet people and start to get yourself known. I don’t agree with working for free though with the competitive job market it can always seem appealing to get experience. So, my advice would be to create projects yourself – especially while you’re at Uni and build your own experience or work for someone who couldn’t afford to pay you such as a charity organisation who you want to support, and they can draw from your skill while you learn invaluable skills.