JOB LOT: ‘What we do is quite literally different every day’


It’s the stuff that adds value to our programme, it puts the icing on the cake and the cherry on top of that, Creative Engagement is where Lighthouse likes to say ‘yes’, as Creative Engagement Manager Martha Earley and Producer Charles Shenton explain…

If there’s anything Lighthouse can do to enhance the enjoyment of a show or extend access to the performing and visual arts, then it’s likely the Creative Engagement team will be involved. 

“What we do is quite literally different every day because Creative Engagement at Lighthouse can be almost anything,” says Martha. 

“If people come to Lighthouse to see a show or use the building in any way, it’s our job to build and expand the ways they can engage with what we do.  

“Obviously, the shows we receive come as they are, but we can add pre- and post-show talks, for instance. With shows we produce like the panto and SALT, our community play, there’s more we can get involved with; then there’s our work with schools and young people, in artist development and with different communities, some of which might be hard to reach.” 

With a background in music education, lately at the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Martha has been in post for ten months while Charles is at the very beginning of his career in the arts. After just a month in the job he underwent something of a baptism of fire at the biggest NT Connections youth theatre festival Lighthouse has hosted – on the Tuesday alone there were more than 85 young people in the building plus teachers, as well as Dorset Acting School. 

“It’s strange going from something you’ve been planning for weeks on screen for to being in the person in the middle of it all, liaising between the young people and their teachers and the wider team at Lighthouse – techs, front of house, marketing – ten different productions meant there’s a lot to manage. 

“I love it, though; this is exactly what I hoped the job would be and when you hear the performers buzzing as they come off stage you get a real sense of how much it means to them. That’s pretty special.” 

And there’s no let up. Creative Engagement has a busy slate with the return of Breakin’ Convention festival of hip hop theatre on 17 May, the first of this year’s Sanctuary artist residencies in June and the first Sanctuary Solstice event for artists, the launch of Lighthouse Academy and a programme of work around the eagerly anticipated Quentin Blake visual arts exhibition in the autumn. 

“There is so much potential for creative engagement at Lighthouse,” says Martha. “The building is so vast and the programme so broad that it can be anything it wants to be, subject to funding and what the community wants. 

“If somebody comes to us with a really exciting idea, we can’t always say yes, but we can promise they will be heard, they will be taken seriously. If we can help, we will; and it might be anything from writing funding applications to finding rehearsal space. If we’re unable help we might be able to point them towards those who can. 

“How this develops is really down to the community and what it wants from us. It can be as big as it wants to be, but in my dreams, we’d have different project managers for schools and young people, visual arts, artist development and communities all working full time on different programmes.” 

To find out more, or if you have a project idea feel free to contact