In our next Sector Spotlight on Creative Industries, we hear from Isla Holloway who is the Marketing and Customer Service Manager at the Pier Arts Centre in Stromness.
Isla has a lifelong desire to go to Art School, which she achieved by attending Edinburgh College of Art to study Tapestry. Following her graduation, she worked as an artist in Edinburgh for a few years, supplementing her income with part-time work. On returning to Orkney, she worked in retail until the role of Marketing and Retail Development Officer came up at the Pier Arts Centre.
Can you describe a typical day in your role as Marketing and Customer Service Manager?
One of the great things about my job is that there is no such thing as a typical day. My main responsibilities are to make sure that everything is running smoothly at the welcome desk, the galleries (for the staff and visitors) and to deal with marketing, publicity and press enquiries that come in.
Once I have made sure all the staff on reception have everything they need to equip them for the day ahead, and that the gallery is clean, tidy and ready to welcome the public, I could be doing a variety of things for the rest of the day including: manning the welcome desk or warding the galleries; updating the centre’s website; scheduling social media posts for the days ahead; writing a press release or designing an advert about our activity; photographing/filming an artwork/exhibition/activity/event; or working with another organisation on some joint promotional activity.
The most important thing for me is that visitors have their best possible experience of the Pier Arts Centre, whether that’s an actual visit, or through engaging with our website or Social Media platforms.
How did you end up in this role?
All I ever really wanted to do was to go to Art School. After a couple of tricky years after leaving school, I realised my ambition and was accepted into Edinburgh College of Art to study a degree in Tapestry. I worked as an artist (with lots of part-time jobs to help pay the bills) in Edinburgh for a couple of years before returning to Orkney with no real plan.
I ended up working in retail and, after a year or so, applied for a (dream) job at the Pier Arts Centre as a Marketing and Retail Development Officer. That was 16 years ago now, and although my job has changed from a development role to one of the ongoing management, I am still as passionate about ensuring we exceed our visitors’ expectations!
What is the best thing about your job?
I love the diversity of my job, every day is different!
I get to meet (mostly virtually at the moment) people from all over the world working in the arts and heritage, and most of all, I love telling folk about the Pier Arts Centre and what a great place it is!
What is the worst thing about your job?
There’s never enough time in the day to get everything done!
What skills do you need to undertake your role?
A lot of my role involved managing people, whether that’s Front of House staff, visitors to the gallery or members of the press, so good communication and interpersonal skills is key. We are a very small team at the Pier Arts Centre, so we all have to be good at working together, as well as working on our own when needed. I use my art background a lot when designing adverts and creating posters and posts for the website/social media platforms.
What qualifications do you have?
I have a BA (hons) degree in Fine Art (Tapestry).
Would you recommend this job to young people, if so why?
If you are interested in the arts, heritage and culture, the Pier Arts centre is a great place to work. For me, working at the Pier Arts Centre in a Marketing and Customer Service role has led me on a career path I maybe didn’t expect to find myself on, but I really enjoy!
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