On envelope stuffing and why the taste of the envelopes doesn’t come into it

Friday 29th April, 2011

Reduced Tesco sushi
A staple of the student diet – i.e. whatever happens to be on the Tesco reduced shelf. Best consumed within 10 minutes of purchase, without shame, and at the back of a bus.

Today was a special day: my first real experience of work in an arts administration office. The office in question was that of the Manchester Camerata, and the work in question was, to give it its proper term, envelope stuffing. Take my word for it, it’s a beautiful thing – the smell of freshly-printed flyers; the taste of envelope glue; the thrill I got every time I wasn’t quite sure whether I’d remembered to put the flyer in with the letter but I’d already sealed the tab…

Alright, it wasn’t quite that amazing. In fact, after the first 50 or so envelopes I realised they were the ones you don’t need to lick. Oh, and the only payment was a (very nice!) cup of tea. But I didn’t sign up for this expecting to have fun, or to gain anything out of it in the short term. Instead, my aim was to shift myself a tiny step closer to employment in the Arts, and I think I achieved that in a small way. There wasn’t as much opportunity to network as I would have liked, given that I was tucked away on my own in one corner of the office, but I enjoyed witnessing the day-to-day goings-on of this kind of office, as a fly on the wall.

Plus it was a useful insight into the various inventive methods that such small organisations as this use to publicise their concerts. In this case, in the run-up to a concert of Mendelssohn’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, they’re sending letters and flyers to a long list of people who recently attended Shakespeare plays at The Lowry, and who presumably consented (at some point during the booking process) to their being sent publicity. It’s a great example of the way Manchester’s arts organisations collaborate, sharing their limited resources in order to keep each other in business. All of them, from Cornerhouse to The Hallé, are linked by an unofficial network of arts administrators, the artistic mafia of the city. Now that is exciting.

Room 101

Leaving the Camerata's RNCM base, I took a wrong turn and found myself here – must have something to do with that sinister network of arts administrators...?


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