Currently one of her major projects is ‘In the Loop,’ a prototype platform that aims at “creating better feedback loops between audiences and cultural organisations in our rural context in Cornwall.” Its pilot project has been to evaluate the G7 Behind the Postcard cultural programme.
In addition to her day job, Bethany takes an active interest in theatre, sitting on the boards for o-region and Cousin Jack’s theatre companies.
How did you get into the cultural and creative sector in Cornwall?
“I’m very proud to be from Cornwall,” says Bethany. “My family’s been here since the 1400s. I feel so rooted here and I’m so proud to work in our creative industries. Cornwall is so full of brilliant stuff.”
Bethany was always interested in theatre, but thought at first that she might have to move to London to pursue her career. After completing a degree in English Literature, she volunteered with Kneehigh Theatre. That volunteer role led to six years with the company.
“An administrator role came up,” she says. “I’m pretty sure I would not have even interviewed for that job had I not volunteered for them, because I was a graduate, I had no other experience, and they had around 150 applicants. But I got that job. And I ended up as the Development Manager”
From there Bethany moved on to her current role at Cornwall 365, where she enjoys the variety of working across various projects in the context of sustainable cultural tourism. Bethany also loves being part of the wider Creative Kernow team.
Why did you want to join the leadership programme?
“I would like to always be working in the creative industries in Cornwall,” says Bethany. “In ten to fifteen years I would love to be leading one of our big companies or organisations. And this programme felt so specifically tailored to what I want to do.”
What have you learned from the experience?
“When I applied for the programme,” says Bethany, “I don’t think I had the confidence to back myself. I might have called myself an emerging leader; I would have been nervous to claim more than that.”
Being part of the programme has increased her confidence as a leader – and she’s been able to take on challenging tasks like project managing the development of the ‘In the Loop’ platform.
“I was able to take control and manage a team of experts who knew far more than me,” says Bethany. “I said to myself, that’s fine, because my role in this project is to be the leader. I actively thought back to our first session in the leadership programme: what kind of leader do I need to be? What have I learned from Patrick and Mandy that I can bring to this project? And it worked.”
It’s not only Bethany who has noticed the development in her skills and confidence: recently a colleague said to her, “I can see such a difference in you, and it’s because you’ve been on this leadership programme.”
What is your action research project?
Bethany has joined forces with Hannah Irwin and Emily Sorrel, her peers in the cohort, to map networks in Cornwall – and to look at the key conditions for building good networks.
So far, they’ve been able to connect with other studies and parallel research as well as conducting their own research through a series of questionnaires, in-depth interviews and a crowdsourced database.
What are your goals for the creative and cultural sector in Cornwall?
“I’m very worried for the future of creativity in Cornwall,” says Bethany. “We receive EU funding for programmes like Cultivator that do so much to support creatives. And it feels like the space for having bold and brilliant ideas – and making mistakes – is shrinking, because so much of the arts funding that’s available is very short-term project funding.”
Yet her hope for the future is undimmed.
“There are some really brilliant powerhouse companies here,” she says. “And there’s a real movement within Cornwall to work collaboratively. If we can do that, we can become the world-leading, rural creative economy that we know we have the potential to be”
Where would you like to be in three to five years?
Bethany aspires to get involved in supporting women in the creative industries in Cornwall.
“I like to think of myself as an amplifier, particularly for women,” she says. “I’d love to be able to do this in a way that has a greater impact.”