Matthew Eames, Senior Programmer & Producer at The Lowry
- Arts and creative
Name: Matthew Eames
Job Title: Senior Programmer Producer at The Lowry
My position in a nutshell: There are two parts to my role. I programme – this means finding shows and bringing them to The Lowry – and I produce – this means creating new shows or special events such as festivals. Essentially, I go out and watch and experience as much theatre as I possibly can and bring the very best of it to The Lowry’s three theatres. It’s an incredible job and I love it.
How I got the job… It’s been a long career and I would say that you should be prepared in your life to do lots of different roles and lots of different things and not necessarily in the same industry. I started out as a performer – At 18 I worked in a holiday camp, singing for audiences five nights a week – a brilliant start and an experience I recommend! I then trained for a year at The Royal Academy of Music in London. I got an agent and started my professional career working in musicals in the West End in London and I also got to tour Europe and America. I did all sorts of incredible things for about 10 years and then I got a bit restless. I wanted to do more. I got the opportunity to be a resident director and in this role I was responsible for helping the director to look after shows whilst they were out on the road. I had to ensure that everyone was doing their best possible jobs and that each show stayed in the same condition as when it finished rehearsals.
As I became more interested in the other side of theatre, I moved in to an Associate Director role and directed some of my own shows.
As I got older, I wanted different things and I went back to university and did a masters degree in arts management and cultural policy – the experience reminded me what it was like to be part of a team, rather than a freelancer. So I found a role within an arts organisation and although I was older, I started in an admin role and gradually worked my way up in to my current position. I’m using all of my previous experience within my role and I enjoy that 50/50 split of being creative and organisational.
My typical day… Generally, there’s a lot of emailing! I’ll be responding to queries or emailing out to tell people I’m interested in their shows. I manage the process of finding shows, booking them – this involves negotiating financial deals and contracts – and bringing them to The Lowry. A couple of nights a week I’ll be watching shows, which is great but it can mean that there are some long days and long weeks! When I am planning special events, there are lot of meetings and managing and supporting people to make it happen.
My most memorable moment… Playing a lead role – Seymour in The Little Shop of Horrors – in the West End. The Little Shop of Horrors was the show that was very important to me when I was in an amateur dramatics society. At 15/16 I played this role and it’s what convinced me that maybe I could get paid to perform and 10 years later, there I was, playing the same role on a West End stage!
The worst part of my job… At the moment, it’s saying no. Sometimes I have to turn some really amazing shows away.
The best part of my job… When I book shows! To be part of bringing shows, that I have seen and am personally invested in and excited about, to Salford, is amazing!
Key skills needed … Patience, positivity and flexibility.
What you can do now… Be interested, read The Stage, find out every possible thing you can about the theatre world. Be open to new ideas and opportunities – say yes more than you say no.