Joanne Lyons

Photographer: Pedro Machado 2015
Photographer: Pedro Machado

General Manager

You would be forgiven for thinking that my job title sounds a little vague and, well, non-specific. And that would be quite accurate an assessment. Now a pretty seasoned ‘General Manager’ at Candoco Dance Company, my role over the years has encompassed a rather stunning range of responsibilities. From constructing a flat-pack filing cabinet to delivering a successful fundraising pitch to a panel of ‘dragons’, from stuffing countless envelopes to representing Candoco at a festival’s discussion forum (in Dutch, I might add), from drawing up contracts, dealing with the logistics of complex international tours, processing invoices, hosting receptions and pulling together funding reports, to descaling the office kettle – constantly skipping between the ridiculous and the sublime, my role could hardly be described as monotonous!

As Candoco’s programme evolves and grows, so too does my remit: I now largely work in the areas of fundraising, company communications and advocacy. Supporting the Company on its journey as a ‘learning organisation’ I seek to find the best ways to convince donors of the incredible value our work has, to effectively communicate what we do and engage with an ever-widening audience, and to advocate for a fair and inclusive Arts sector as persuasively as possible.

True to form, the road I took to Candoco was not a straightforward one. From a degree in Modern Languages, via PA work for a major national charity, working as a freelance translator and as a DVD packaging editor(!), it was an apprenticeship with Springs Dance Company, a Postgraduate Certificate in Dance in Community (at Laban) and a further Postgraduate Certificate in Physical Theatre (with Jasmin Vardimon Company at RHUL) that reeled me back to my childhood passion, Dance. I worked for a while as a Dance Artist, before finally settling in Arts Management.

Call me biased, but far and away the best Dance I have seen in recent years has to be Candoco’s restaging work of ‘Set and Reset/Reset’ by Trisha Brown and, of course, the restaging of Jerome Bel’s ‘The Show Must Go On’. These pieces truly showcase the rich variety inherent within the artform itself, and what better example of the creative case for diversity? I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: dance makes a difference, but Difference makes Dance.

(See here for Joanne’s award-winning fundraising pitch (Joint First) at the Dance UK conference on 10 April 2015 – the pitch comes in at 1:18:20)