Nine to five: Charlotte | Patrons Manager at the ICA

January 15, 2013

Charlotte is Patrons Manager at the Institute of Contemporary Arts – home to the best of new art and cultural thinking.

Describe a typical day 
My alarm goes off without fail at 7:30am. I’ll have a shower and always make time for breakfast at home, normally toast and marmite or a bowl of fruit and fibre. I get in to work for 10am and spend an hour or so checking emails and replying to anything urgent. I’ll normally do a walk around the gallery, checking that patron’s materials are well stocked and that the box office staff are briefed for the day’s events. 

The rest of my day will be taken up with meetings, either with directors of the gallery discussing potential donors or with corporate clients discussing sponsorship opportunities. A couple of evenings a week we tend to have events or exhibition openings – these are very busy and chaotic but almost always involve cocktails!

On an average day I’ll be home by 9pm where I’ll have a simple dinner of stir fry or pasta, and relax in front of the TV with my boyfriend and a glass of wine (we’re currently making our way through Breaking Bad). 

How did you get into this role?
I always knew I wanted to work in the arts, so during my final year at uni I applied for internships in London at most of the big theatres. Before I’d even sat my finals I’d secured a fundraising internship at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre. I worked there for 6 months full time (juggling a part time bar job in the evenings) before starting a second internship at the world famous Bush Theatre.

Finally, I secured my first paid job at the ‘Rambert Dance Company’, where I spent a fantastic two and a half years working with their members and high level donors, organising exciting events across London and the UK.

When it was time to move to the next level I applied for the role of Patrons Manager at the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA), which is where I’m currently working.

What do you love most about your job?
Meeting amazing artists and working with creative people. In October 2012 we hosted the ‘Peace for 1 day AK47 Exhibition’ – where decommissioned guns were decorated by artists such as The Chapman Brothers and Damien Hirst, amongst other young British artists. An auction of the guns raised over £100k and was hosted by our charity ambassador Jude Law. That was a really great project to be involved in.

This spring, we’re launching a major exhibition for renowned fashion and art photographer ‘Juergen Teller’, charting the past 20 years of his career with raw and intimate photos of celebrities including Kate Moss, Vivienne Westwood, and the Beckhams, to name a few. During the exhibition he’ll take over the whole gallery, and I’m really looking forward to the events we’ll be hosting surrounding it.

What advice would you give someone wanting to get into the arts?
You’ve got to be willing to work hard and realise you’re not going to be on a lot of money to begin with – a passion for the industry should be driving you. A readiness to tackle anything that’s thrown at you is essential, and it really is all about experience – be prepared to intern to earn your place.

Want to know more? You can find Charlotte on twitter @CharlotteSurman

Em xx

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