Janthi Mills, education manager
Janthi Mills is community and education manager at the Belgrade Theatre, Coventry. Editing her student newspaper helped her to make contacts in the world of theatre.
I was born and grew up in Huddersfield. I now live in Derbyshire.
What job do you do?
I'm community and education manager at the Belgrade Theatre in Coventry.
What previous jobs in theatre have you done?
My first role in theatre was my secondary school work experience placement at the West Yorkshire Playhouse.
"Originally, I wanted to be an actress. Then I realised there were all these other exciting ways you could be involved with theatre."
I loved it! I was doing photocopying all week, but the buzz of being in a producing theatre was unbelievable.
Then I was vice president and communications officer at Derby University’s student union.
As part of the role at Derby University, I was the editor of the student newspaper. I made sure I got involved with as many arts organisations as possible by reviewing arts events and productions.
Later, I became community liaison officer, and then community development manager, at the Derby Playhouse. I was responsible for breaking down the barriers for those communities that don’t normally go to the theatre.
I had made a lot of contacts in the local community during my student work, which subsequently helped me in these roles.
What qualifications do you have?
I did A levels in theatre, music and history.
I also have an advanced certificate in arts marketing from Cambridge Marketing College and a degree in performing and media arts from Derby University.
Originally, I wanted to be an actress. I think that was because I didn’t realise there were all these other exciting ways you could be involved with theatre and the arts.
Now, I relish being part of making the arts happen. I love introducing and opening up the theatre to new communities and people who have previously believed that attending and participating in the arts wasn’t for them.
What do you do at work?
I manage the Belgrade Theatre’s 'community and education company'. This involves setting and managing the department’s budget and accounts.
I submit funding proposals for projects, and report back project activities to funders, including Coventry City Council and the Arts Council.
I support community and education staff within their roles, ensuring they have opportunities to feed back and access development opportunities. I am also responsible for setting up and monitoring departmental systems including issuing contracts and representing the community and education company at meetings.
"I am part of a theatre that makes new, exciting work that is relevant to all of Coventry’s communities."
A day can be pretty varied, but usually includes checking and responding to emails, coding invoices, and ensuring projects are staying within the agreed budgets.
I also re-forecast budgets to reflect any changes in circumstances. I have to liaise with other departments in the theatre, such as the marketing department. For example, we might work together on a piece of print for an upcoming performance.
I meet regularly with the associate director of the community and education company, to confirm artistic plans for the department and keep up to date with the rest of the team on what they are working on.
What’s the best thing about your job?
Helping people from all communities create work which is unique and which draws from their own experiences.
A major positive is getting to see the benefits that participants get from being involved in the projects.
For some, it might be going on to study drama. For others it might be becoming confident enough to look someone in the eye.
The thing that tops this all off is that I am part of a producing theatre that makes new, exciting high quality work. We aim to make our theatre relevant to all of Coventry’s communities.
And the worst thing about the job?
Lack of funding! We do our best to include as many people as possible, but an increase in funding would mean that we could work with everyone who wanted to be involved in a project.
How do I get into theatre?
Get involved with everything and everyone.
I think it's really important to understand how each department of a theatre works, so always offer to help and support colleagues. Ensure you keep learning new things.
Also, you can’t buy or learn passion and enthusiasm, so don’t be ashamed of it and never forget to keep showing it.
Janthi is part of our theatre experts panel. Ask Janthi a question about working in theatre.