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A Focus on: Ailsa, our Enterprise Manager

Profile: An insight into working with Creativity Works
A Focus on: Ailsa, our Enterprise Manager
Ailsa Holmes

Job Title: 

Enterprise Manager

When did you start working for Creativity Works?

June 2012

What is your professional background? 
I stayed in Manchester for a while after my degree (Combined Studies at Manchester University which included Anthropology, Literature, the History of Science, Medicine and Technology, and any other random modules that took my fancy!)

Whilst there I volunteered with Black Labrador Arts and worked the summer holidays with Manchester International Arts doing street theatre events – this introduced me to many weird and wonderful happenings and immersive experiences. After this I set up my own social enterprise – Powwow Eco Arts (which still runs today) delivering eco arts workshops in schools and with the community. We had an eco-garden created by young people with autism and youth offenders and we helped transform an urban park in to a thriving event filled hub for the local community. Powwow Eco Arts also made lots of straw bale/cob sculptures and educational spaces and devised a plan to build eco housing, an arts space and B+B, and very nearly got �25 million of the Lottery to do it!

Alongside this I helped scope the social enterprise sector of the NW and worked with many organisations and individuals to help get their start-up businesses off the ground.

From Manchester I moved to Brighton and worked at a Steiner Waldorf School in the Communications and Fundraising team and from there moved to Bristol and South Glos Carers Support Centre as an Enterprise Development Manager. When I saw this job, I thought- “ooh that looks great” and here I am.

What does a typical day look like for Ailsa at Creativity Works?

If I am not out and about meeting people and trying to build new partnerships, I will be looking at opportunities in potential funding bids or commissions.

At the moment we have exciting projects in Bristol around mental health and new work with elders and dementia, which I am helping to get off the ground.

What do you enjoy most about working here?

Every day is so different and there is so much to learn. I love the fusion and synthesising from all the different areas that we delve in to including socially engaged arts practice, health and social care, mental health, bringing ideas to fruition…

What do you find most challenging?

I think it is about juggling the demands and managing the expectations from all the different viewpoints: on the artists to create a wonderful end product and an outstanding participatory process; the demands from the organisation contracting you; being given the implicit trust to take risks and push boundaries; being asked to EVIDENCE your work; people constantly saying “but you are expensive!”; convincing people when they don’t inherently understand or see the value of the creative process and what role it can play in transforming lives. But this is what takes time and why we are so good.  So sometimes the challenging starts produce the best and most satisfying results as you see how partners, agencies, participants have begun to think and see differently.

What has been most surprising during your time so far at Creativity Works?

That I can be organised if I try very hard and that I am actually a lot more organised than I gave myself credit for! Also realising that you probably know a lot more than you think you did about all sorts of things.

What has been your biggest professional or personal achievement to date? 

The many friends and great acquaintances that I have been privileged enough to work with over the years and all the things they have helped me to learn, share and make happen.

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