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48 of 50

2019 is our 50th anniversary and we are championing some of the people who help make Scottish Ballet a great place to work. Each week we will introduce you to a different career at Scottish Ballet and the person behind it.

Joy Parkinson joined Scottish Ballet just as we kicked off our 50th anniversary celebrations. As Press Manager, Joy's role ranges from writing press releases and pitching to journalists, to preparing for press nights in the theatres and liaising with the media. 

We caught up with Joy to find out how she began working in the arts and what she loves about Scottish Ballet.

Tell us about your journey with Scottish Ballet

I was first introduced to Scottish Ballet while I was working at the Edinburgh International Festival, and I was aware that they were looking for a communications professional to oversee their 50th anniversary press.

My contract was just about to come to a close and, somehow within the madness of the festivals in August, I managed to organise a meeting with the company. I wanted to learn more about the position plus their wants and needs for their new season. Kate Carter, Head of Brand, Audience and Digital (or Team BAD, as we are known), had recently joined Scottish Ballet and sold me on the company’s creative vision and future aspirations.

A coffee-fuelled application was pulled together and within a week of finishing at Edinburgh International Festival I was sworn into the Scottish Ballet family. Within such haze, I hadn’t clocked that this was a week before the company launched their 50th anniversary season, so it was a definite case of 'hit the ground running'.

What brought you north of the border?

While I wouldn’t give this advice to future aspiring students, my university applications were based on the prettiest towns or cities that offered an English degree. I had a romantic vision of how I wanted my life to appear so set my sights on the cobbled streets of Chester, Edinburgh, and Lancaster. 

As soon as I stepped out of Waverley Station onto Princes Street, I fell in love with Scotland. I love the culture, history, and people. I am proud to call it ‘home.'

How did you begin working in the arts?

Much to my family’s dismay, I knew that the traditional academic route wasn’t a natural fit for me during my first academic term. So, I made the decision to move from an English Degree at Edinburgh University to a Journalism Degree at Edinburgh Napier University.

Instantly, I was hooked by the excitement and buzz of working within a fast-paced environment. I was fuelled by working within real-time and loved the opportunity to react and respond to current affairs and events.

I had never thought of a career within communications until the third year of my degree.

My course was producing a cultural magazine called Impulse and, alongside organising fundraising events, I had written a feature article on the Traverse Theatre’s 50th anniversary year. A PR called Owen O’Leary organised an interview between myself and the Artistic Director at the time, a great friend and woman, Orla O’Loughlin. The team then joined the magazine’s launch at The Fruitmarket Gallery in Edinburgh and it was there I was introduced to their press & marketing Internships. Since then, I haven’t looked back.

From working within the press team at Traverse Theatre to Summerhall, Dance Base to Scottish Ballet, I have honed a career in Arts PR and feel very lucky to have found a position that combines my love and passion for art, English and media on a daily basis.

L - R Joy Parkinson and Laura Kelly in Eden Court. Credit Sally Jubb

What does your job involve?

My friend and colleague Donald Hutera and I joke that working within this industry is like being part of a circus – lots of juggling and spinning plates.

We’ll be keeping the circus on stage this year with The Snow Queen, but the short answer is that no two days is the same. That’s what I love about it.

One day I could be writing a press release and working with journalists to pitch out stories. Another day I could be collaborating with artists to organise photo or media calls. Or I could be organising press tickets and events for opening nights, and another day I could be gathering news crews or finalising details for documentaries.

Scottish Ballet is a touring company, so the work is presented across the calendar year which means that we always have something exciting going on. That means that the company never stops learning and growing, and the same is said of the people within it. That’s what I love about working with the ‘live’ - it’s ever-evolving. 

What is the best part of your job, and why do you like working at Scottish Ballet?

Getting to collaborate with people, across different areas, working together to produce or present something bigger than ourselves.

The arts have the power to challenge, educate, and inspire. I feel very fortunate to use my skill set as a small contribution to this every day.

What is your 'get up and go' song?