UK Theatre’s vision is to see a well-connected and well-supported theatre sector at the heart of UK life, and our Board is vital to helping us achieve this. Through our 'Meet the Board' blog series, you'll get to know our Board members better and find out why they volunteer their time and expertise to UK Theatre on behalf of the industry.
In this edition of 'Meet the Board' we get to know one of our newer board members, Claire Murray, Communications and Fundraising Director at Sheffield Theatres. Claire joined the UK Theatre Board in Autumn 2018.
Claire Murray. Photo by Maisie Burn
"UK Theatre is an organisation that I have turned to for help and advice on so many occasions throughout my career. It was responsible for the first training courses I experienced, it’s helped me to understand new and seemingly impenetrable legislation and the many touring symposiums I’ve attended have enabled me to meet and become friends with people from across the sector.
The value of being connected as a sector; of having a coordinated approach to the changing landscape in which we’re operating is huge. It seems to me that what UK Theatre does so brilliantly is it brings people, from across every part of the sector, together. It helps us to understand our environment and each other better and it’s a role that’s never been more vital than it is now.
I became a Board member because I was eager to be involved with shaping the future of UK Theatre to help it to continue to provide the vital network, support and knowledge that we need.
I’m Communications & Fundraising Director at Sheffield Theatres. We’re the largest producing theatre complex outside of London, offering a diverse programme of in-house produced and touring productions. As a part of the senior leadership team, I’m responsible for internal and external communications and PR, programming, sales and fundraising. It’s a substantial remit, and as part of a small senior team, my role also branches into audience experience, digital innovation, accessibility and brand.
Prior to Sheffield I was a project manager and consultant working in arts organisations across the country. As a consultant, I implemented CRM and ticketing systems for two major consortia. I spent seven years at Northampton’s Royal and Derngate as a part of the team that delivered its £15m redevelopment in 2004 and I began my career at Leicester’s De Montfort Hall working in the Box Office and Marketing teams.
I’m really passionate about regional theatre and about investing in people and places that haven’t historically enjoyed access or investment in arts and culture. As someone from a working class background in the North East of England, I want to reach people who, like me, haven’t or don’t have access to the arts, or who don’t feel like it’s for them. Diversity and inclusion are essential if we are committed to creating great, relevant work and attracting new audiences to come and see it. I want people to come through our doors as audience members, and I want more people who are least engaged to see the arts as a career opportunity too.
I’m excited by the Stage Sight initiative (widening the diversity of the theatre and performing arts workforce in off stage roles), by UK Theatre’s support of PIPA (Parents in Performing Arts) and I’m actively engaged with Inspiring Future Theatre which is a brilliant initiative designed to raise awareness of careers in the sector amongst children and young people.
I’m also really keen to ensure that as well as becoming more diverse, that the workforce is fully supported, and that we as a sector adapt to the needs and expectations of our employees. Whilst in the role of interim Chief Executive in Sheffield last year, I introduced a Workforce Wellbeing Week. Designed by our staff team themselves, it saw employees engaged in singing workshops, yoga, massage and mindfulness and it brought awareness of mental health and work/life balance to the fore. This issue is high on the Board’s agenda too and I look forward to contributing to our developing provision in the future. In the meantime, I’m pleased to see the Theatre Helpline offering support to anyone who is experiencing personal or professional challenges, or is seeking advice or information. I’m really proud of this as a positive and practical response to member needs.
As a trustee I hope to bring my skills, experience and enthusiasm to bear to help shape the current and future initiatives that will foster positive working cultures and conditions across the sector."
Read the other blogs in this series:
See who else is on the UK Theatre Board here.