Colette Hansford reveals her path from pulling pints to becoming General Manager of the Hofesh Shechter Company.
General Manager, Hofesh Shechter Company (2008 – present)
Looking back, this is exactly where I wanted to be. It’s my ideal job, working with an artist whose choreography and music I find so thrilling and for a company which is not afraid to be ambitious and is constantly seeking new ways to bring dance to as many people as possible. To this day, I still feel lucky to have met Hofesh and Executive Director Helen Shute at The Place and to have been offered this role. Building a company from the ground up which was definitely outside my comfort zone – even after 17 years in the business. However, it excites me to be challenged and I enjoy wearing many different hats such as Finance, HR, IT, Tour and Activity Planning. After five years as General Manager I still tell people that every day I learn something new.
Administrative Director, The Place (2006 - 2008)
I was offered the role of Administrative Director of Theatre and Artist Development to help plan the merger of the theatre and artist development team and its future role. My focus was primarily on managing the theatre programme, box office and venue operation, with the added bonus of contributing towards creative initiatives and support of the independent dance community. During this time I met Hofesh Shechter who at the time was an Associate Artist at The Place. Hofesh had just taken part in the Escalator project managed by Helen Shute, who had come to The Place on an Arts Council Fellowship.
Theatre Manager, The Place (2000 - 2006)
Here I worked closely with Theatre Director John Ashford on the theatre programme and its day-to-day operations. During my time in this role, I managed projects such as Aerowaves and Resolution!, increased my dance knowledge, expanded the theatre team and discovered an interest in and ‘creativity’ for financial management. This role gave me a strong foundation of knowledge and experience which I could apply to my future roles. I also had a baby!
Theatre Administrator, The Place (1998 – 2000)
Although I’d enjoyed my time in theatre, my degree was in dance and I’d always wanted to work in this area. So when the opportunity of Theatre Administrator at The Place arose, I had to take it. I had responsibility for running the front of house operation of the venue and I used the business skills I’d built up during my five years in theatre to improve the profitability of the bars and FOH operation. When the Box Office Manager left the organisation I also took on the running of the Box Office, combining the operation with the front of house and this is still how it operates today. I also took on the Project Manager responsibilities, as well as working with artists on contract negotiations. Over time at The Place, my job title changed to Theatre Manager.
Deputy Theatre Manager/Interim Theatre Manager, Richmond Theatre (1996 – 1998)
Assistant Theatre Manager (1995 - 1996)
Management /Box Office Assistant (1994 - 1995)
In these roles, I ran the front of house operation of the performances. I particularly enjoyed running the pantomime seasons – everyone’s in good spirits; it’s the only time of year you get to dress up as a fairy and wear a tiara! These roles gave me a great foundation in all areas of a venue operation.
Bar Supervisor, Richmond Theatre (1993 – 1994)
This was my first job working in an arts venue and actually one of the jobs I enjoyed the most. There’s something quite satisfying about serving 400 people in 15 minutes and being on good form whilst you are doing it. This was only an evening job but Kate Anderson, Theatre Manager, created a full time role for me and it is thanks to her that I began to climb the ladder.
Colette Hansford is General Manager of Hofesh Shechter Company.
Hofesh Shechter Company’s Political Mother: the Choreographer’s Cut is at Sadler’s Wells from 3 to 7 July, as part of the Sadler’s Sampled season.