The Commercial and Sales Manager for Corn Exchange Newbury and 101 Outdoor Arts Creation Space is a proud performer turned ticketing professional. Here, Samuel reflects on the qualities he admires most in people, his most prized possession, the places he would love to live and how an INTIX professional development grant is changing his career and his life.
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Who do you admire most and why?
I admire people who ruffle feathers but don’t pluck them. People who aren’t going to just go with the flow. Salmon swimming upstream. There are a few individuals and they all tend to be people who stand out from the crowd.
What is the quality you like most in a person?
Openness and willingness to change. Willingness to be honest. Willingness to try something new. Anyone with an open mind and open heart because I think those are the people who drive our industry forward.
What is the quality you like most in a colleague?
Decisiveness. Somebody who is able to make accurate decisions, but doesn’t undervalue taking time to listen and maybe even have a laugh.
What qualities are important to you in a leader?
Somebody who is not afraid to be wrong and allows people to make their own mistakes in order to learn. In turn, they support their team and encourage them to figure things out for themselves but also provide the tools to help everybody make good decisions. These are all things I try to be as a leader.
Who or what is the greatest love of your life?
Theatre is probably my greatest love in many forms. From having been in it — dancing and on stage — to now sitting on the other side of the desk, selling the tickets and helping run a theater. Both have allowed me to see smiling faces of audiences, which is particularly important at the moment.
Which talent would you most like to have?
As a performer and singer, I’ve always been a bass-baritone, so I’ve always been envious of any singer who is a tenor and can belt out the high notes. I feel sorry for anyone who has to go on a road-trip with me!
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Successfully transitioning from one side of the curtain to the other and being able to do the job that I’m currently doing. I don’t think everybody gets the chance to transition so easily. You often feel that you’re playing catch up to everyone else.
Where would you most like to live?
In the U.K., probably Manchester. I spent a lot of time visiting friends who went there for university and I really like the city. In the U.S., the first city that I ever visited was San Diego, so I’ve always wanted to go back and spend more time there.
What is your most treasured possession?
It’s a little stuffed tiger. When my granddad passed away, my grandma gave it to me and said he had bought it for me, though I knew grandma had done that. He goes on all my travels! We’ve also just moved into a new flat with my new job and he’s currently sitting by the door, so I see him every day when I go out.
What’s the best live event you’ve ever seen and why?
One of my favorite things about a live event was when I was working for Wicked in London. I was working Front of House as an usher and my favorite place to stand was by the fire exit door, next to the stage, which was right near the orchestra pit. You could hear the percussionist in the pit going wild at the end of the show and the sound was fantastic. I probably spent more time watching him than I should have done.
One of my other favorites was a fringe theatre piece that was about dating. You had a one-on-one ‘date’ with one of the actors in a private booth and then you met with the other people who had also been on dates at the end. The actors would then tell everybody else about the date you’d been on. A fun experience and I thought that was the end of the show until a week later when I received a handwritten letter from the actress that I’d been on this ‘date’ with — she had written down all the details and remembered all the things we’d spoken about. It was a really great way of making me feel special as an audience member!
What is your favorite venue and why?
I think it would be the first venue that I worked in. I guess it was there that I got the opportunity to see so many different types of performance. The New Wolsey Theater in Ipswich is an auditorium of 400 seats and a beautiful studio theater. The seats in the main auditorium wrap around the stage in a way that makes it feel very intimate.
What is your favorite team of all time and why?
I play for an inclusive rugby team, the Wessex Wyverns RFC. I’m not particularly into sports, but I started playing rugby and they have been like a family. It’s great to meet other people in an environment that also challenges me, so I guess they are my favorite!
What is your favorite place to visit or place you’d love to visit and why?
I like visiting Covent Garden in London. It has a great atmosphere and there are always street performers, people exploring and seeking things to do, loads of great food, plus shops and restaurants around the area too.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
Rugby is certainly a big part of my spare time now and I look after their social media channels too. I also like going to the cinema, seeing theatre and exploring a new town or city.
What brings you the most joy or greatest meaning in life?
Helping others and seeing those people grow in confidence and ability, inside and outside of work.
Why are you a member of INTIX?
I am a member of INTIX after receiving a bursary to go to the conference in Texas — and as part of that I’ve been given a membership for this year. I am very grateful because I now have a wealth of knowledge and connections at my fingertips that I didn’t know was there. I feel part of a wider ticketing community that has embraced the UK in a way that we don’t embrace ourselves. It’s fantastic to be part of this community. My peer Hatti Simpson, Box Office Manager at Lyric Hammersmith in the U.K., and I are already raising funds together to continue our ticketing industry development and hopefully attend INTIX 2020 in New York. We both work for charitable arts venues, so funding for personal development is difficult to get. We’ve set up a GoFundMe page as part of our efforts. Please consider supporting us if you can!
What do you get from INTIX?
Support, a sense of belonging and the ability to make contact with people to ask for advice.
How do you use INTIX?
I’m fairly new to INTIX at the moment, so I’m figuring that out and happy to hear from people if they’ve got advice to share!
What does INTIX give you that is different from everything else you are doing?
It validates the hard work that I’ve been putting in since my change in career because we don’t seem to value our front of house and ticketing teams in the U.K. the same as they do in the U.S. It gives me the confidence to make my team feel as important as I feel to INTIX.
Who is your mentor?
There are a few people. My dance teacher Coral, who taught me from when I was younger. I still keep in contact with her, we catch up and talk. As well, there’s Stephen Skrypec from TRG. We’ve known each other for a very long time and in various roles over the last 20 years, so we’ve kept in touch. He has been a mentor and champion for my development. That kind of support is difficult to find!
What do you love most about your job?
I love that it’s different. I love that I get to be creative in a way that most office jobs can’t necessarily give you and that that directly results in patron satisfaction. The experience my team and I can provide makes each visit to my venue special.
What do you love most about our industry?
What is your most memorable career moment?
I think opening the new building for Nuffield Southampton Theatres in the city center last year. It was memorable for a number of reasons. We put together all of the new seating plans, the ticketing options, opened a new ticket office and hired new staff. There was a big opening ceremony in the square in front of the building too. The team faced a lot of pressure, but they did a really great job, so I was really proud of them. They stepped up to the plate and really made it extraordinary for everyone and for us as a team.
What is your most memorable INTIX moment?
Shaking like a leaf with a quarter in my hand on the stage at the Dallas conference during the heads or tails fundraising event. I was flipping the coin and terrified I’d drop it down a crack in the stage!