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68 Dartmouth at work


Over 15 thousand people visited the Flavel last year to laugh along with comedians, relax in front of a good film or be moved by a live theatre or music performance. The venue hosts over a thousand events every year thanks to a team of nine trustees, nine employees and over 100 volunteers. Steph Woolvin met four of the people involved.


Daryl Whitehead (She’s a lady and camera-shy!) Programme Manager


How long have you worked at the Flavel? Since September 2016


Tell us about your job? I book everything that appears in the main auditorium from films to co- medians. It’s my job to find new and interesting acts and convince well- known artists to come to Dartmouth! I do a lot of Googling and Youtubing and often visit other theatres and performance venues to keep on top of what’s out there. Then it’s a matter of emailing and ringing agents.


How do you decide what will work here? You have to bear in mind that we are a small venue, seating 200, and a long way from a city so we can’t go for huge names, they just wouldn’t be interest- ed in us. I try approaching people who don’t mind intimate gigs and there are quite a few celebrities who either have a connection to Dartmouth or enjoy visiting. You also have to think about the local audience. The audience knows what they like so there’s no point booking very controversial acts or lots of bloodthirsty horror films because we wouldn’t get enough customers.


How much preparation goes into each show? It can be a lot. Some need special sound and lighting. Some artists bring their own equipment and that can be challenging; first of all finding somewhere for them to park and un- load and secondly getting it all up in the lift. If it’s a magic or science show then we have to do risk assessment forms to make sure they aren’t going to set the place on fire!


Does anyone have a demand- ing rider – 50 pizzas and a basket of kittens to stroke!? (Laughs) No, we won’t stand for that kind of thing! The sort of artists who


come here aren’t divas. They usually want a cup of tea before they go on and a local beer at the end.


Are you required to work var- ied hours if you are helping during the shows? I work 30 hours a week, but they can be all over the place. I often come in to see a performance even if I’m not needed to see how well it goes down. Even when I’m at my desk I’m not sat in an office – I’ll be sat at the top of the stairs being trampled on by customers eager to get into the main auditorium!


What makes you well suited to this job? I’m assertive, positive and confident. You don’t get anywhere in this indus- try if you’re meek and easily put off! I’ve had lots of experience working in museums, galleries and performance venues around Britain and one in


There are quite a few celebrities who either have a connection to Dartmouth or enjoy visiting.


Brisbane in Australia. My family are still based down under but it was too hot for me so I came back home after three years!


So as you are quite new to the job, what initiatives are you hoping to introduce? I would like to do a Last Night of the Proms event this summer. It would involve a live stream to London, bunting, Pimms and lots of flags. I am developing a regular comedy club with a few ‘next best thing’ comedi- ans and also a relaxed jazz supper


club with people sat round tables drinking and watching cabaret style performances.


What about events for young people? That’s definitely on my radar. We do have lots of under 16s and families here in Dartmouth so it’s just a matter of getting them through the doors! I may try digital workshops with timed sessions so people could come and develop their skills, or perhaps some games events. I’m also interested in more events for under fours. I have seen shows I’d like to book for children but it’s a bit of an untested market and we don’t want to lose money. If I try a few small events and we have high numbers I could start branching out – it’s baby steps, if you’ll pardon the pun.


How do you get to work? Walk. I’m only five minutes away. It’s the only job I’ve had where I can walk to work – I love it!


What’s your car radio tuned to? BBC 6 Music. I love unusual edgy tracks, usually ‘drum and base’ and grime.


Do you have a life motto? If you want something you have to work hard for it and roll with the punches.


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