A Day in the Life

A Day in the Life… Dr Verity Peet manager, the Portico of Ards

WHAT IS YOUR CURRENT ROLE?
I’m the manager at Portico Arts & Heritage Centre in Portaferry. I joined when the restoration was underway, about a year before it was officially opened by Prince Charles in 2016, and my role was to create Portico’s exhibitions (real and virtual) and set up a programme of events. These days my work is predominantly managing events – we have concerts most weekends and they all need planning, marketing and managing.

WHAT IS YOUR BACKGROUND?
My background is media – I was a TV and multimedia producer with BBC, Channel 4 and various indies. I won a tender to produce 20 films about Titanic for Tourism Ireland so that got me into the tourism sector. Then I had babies and TV production and babies don’t mix too well, so I did a PhD so I could stay at home with my little ones. But they grew and the PhD finished, so I looked for something local where I could use my experience producing content and events.

WHAT ARE THE BEST/WORST PARTS OF YOUR JOB?
Is my boss reading this? The worst part is his organ playing! Portico’s restoration included restoring its organ and I really really, really would rather listen to any other type of music!

The best part is enjoying the audience buzz at the end of concerts when the crowd is on a high.

WHAT DO YOU FIND MOST CHALLENGING ABOUT THE SECTOR?
I find it frustrating that many people do not recognise the overlaps between the arts, heritage, tourism, community and wellbeing, economic development and regeneration. For me, these things are totally entwined and I can’t understand why there is not far greater joint projects and cross-sector collaboration.

OUTLINE A TYPICAL DAY
Planning events – sorting dates and fees with agents, finding promo videos and good images. Organising the imminent events which involves managing our extensive team of volunteer staff (herding cats territory) as well as sorting out tickets, queries, updating everyone on sales, getting the wine in! Marketing takes up lots of my time – constantly updating our social media channels to promote concerts, organising press coverage and interviews, creating mailchimps. And meetings about our wider concerns like audience development and financial sustainability.

PROUDEST MOMENT OF YOUR CAREER TO DATE
When I joined Portico, they’d only ever had rather staid classical music concerts. The first concert I organised was an ABBA tribute band called The Bjorn Identity and, within half an hour, the entire audience of 300 people were up dancing and singing their hearts out. The Portico board looked a little shocked, but it was a great moment for me!

BEST THING ABOUT BEING INVOLVED IN THE LOCAL SECTOR
Meeting new people all the time – our heritage gallery attracts people from all over the world and it’s fascinating to chat with them.

WHAT DO YOU LIKE TO DO TO UNWIND AWAY FROM WORK?
Shout at my children. Drink gin. Watch box sets. The usual!

TELL US SOMETHING ABOUT YOURSELF NOT MANY PEOPLE MAY KNOW
Despite appearances, I don’t just drink gin!

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