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GEMMA SMITH

Duty Manager / Box Office

“I began my journey at the Barbican Theatre as a young person new to the arts, uncertain what I was into and what direction I wanted to go in for study/work and career.

Aged 16 I came along to an open DJ night hosted by the in-house youth arts group at the time.  The atmosphere and people were so friendly and warm that by the time I left that evening I had signed up to join the group and began my journey as volunteer, steward, stage crew, performer and employee at the Barbican.  Today, you are most likely to find me either on the box office or as a duty manager welcoming you in to one of our performances or behind a lens capturing what is going on here.

After gaining a place in the Barbican’s youth dance company in 2006 I performed with the company for 6 years before moving on to help lead in class and support the development of pieces.  As the performance training in the building has evolved I continued to work with the artistic team to support Company B. Outside of the Barbican I also teach dance in two primary school’s in the city and this experience has also lead to me supporting and working with some of the younger programmes we used to have at the Barbican.  These experiences have also lead me to collaborating with the Barbican on a number of interesting cross-arts projects often involving dance or performance.

I studied a photography degree between 2004-2007 and often used the Barbican and the people involved there as a source of inspiration and content for my projects.  As my ability grew I began to take some images for the theatre, some even appeared in the marketing print.  This relationship has grown and I now regularly capture and have images that are used to promote work at the Barbican, I think my understanding and participation in what is on offer here allows me to have an insight and capture a small flavour of that feeling in my photography work.

It’s really hard to sum up my role for the Barbican.  Sometimes people say to me ‘you’re still here?’ and for me it’s quite easy to say ‘absolutely!’

Although I am no longer a young person accessing and interacting with the theatre on a participatory level I find it’s a place where individuals have the ability to continually grow, develop and go on a journey.  

For me, even now, there are lots of things I am learning from the being here, last year I was lucky enough to be a part of the community company for the Barbican’s commissioned piece introducing ‘The Box’ to Plymouth and danced as a part of the ‘Illuminate’ performance at Royal William Yard.

I also freelance for other arts organisations and projects within Plymouth (most recently Horizon and Take A Part) and the Barbican certainly continues to contribute to my personal and professional development enabling me to continue exploring and developing my skills within the arts in many different ways.”

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