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Job profile - Creative Connections practitioner

Read about a typical day in the work-life of our Creative Connections practitioner, Janice Murray!

Name: Janice Murray

Job title: Creative Connections Practitioner

Employer: Rosehill Theatre Arts Trust, Moresby, Whitehaven

Age: 52 (argh – how did that happen?)

Where are you from? I was born in Hensingham, Whitehaven. I studied in Carlisle and Oxford and spent 10 years working in London before returning home in 2001.

Where do you live now? On the outskirts of Frizington with stunning views over the Ennerdale valley.

Where do you work? I am based in my lovely arts studio, in the barn next to Rosehill Theatre.

How long have you done this job? Since September 2018. It’s a one-year contract but hopefully funding will extend the post for another year. It’s 16 hours a week, which is perfect for me to be able to pursue my freelance artistic work as well.

Take us through a typical day: I work on the visual arts aspect of Rosehill’s Taking Part programme and the job is incredibly varied.

I am the visual artist on the Start Project, which inspires and engages school children in the arts. The project gives students (key stage two and year sevens) opportunities to visit theatres and see productions. They then extend their artistic learning back into the classroom through drama and visual arts, culminating in a celebratory event at the end of the year.

As part of the project we attended Mrs Lutwidge and the Magic of the North Pier Lighthouse, the December Harbour Tales show at Rosehill Theatre, and Beauty and the Beast at Theatre by the Lake in Keswick.

At the time of writing my answers for this article, I am working with hundreds of children learning about costume. So far they have learned techniques in textile, printing, rag-rugging and recycling (inspired by Oliver Messel, a leading theatre and film designer from the 1930s to 1950s who designed the auditorium of Rosehill Theatre).

I am also working on the Creative Connections programme, which looks at the heritage of the theatre and the connections between Rosehill’s creator Sir Nicholas Sekers (who founded the West Cumberland Silk Mills at Hensingham, which later became Sekers Fabrics Limited), Oliver Messel and others influential in the Rosehill story. In addition, I am concentrating on educational resources and exhibits for an upcoming exhibition at Rosehill as part of the programme.

I also run the Mini Messel’s Makers workshops at Rosehill. These are family-based arts sessions that focus on reusing and recycling everyday materials to turn them into beautiful new creations. They are great fun for all ages and prove popular! Some of our most recent sessions have included making recycled planters, shadow puppets, animal masks and dreamcatchers, and on Saturday, April 13 we will be making paper wreaths and bouquets with spring in mind.

What do you like most about the job? The diversity of the role. My manager, Anne Timpson, is amazing support and gives me the artistic freedom to develop my own ideas for the programmes.

I also appreciate being able to work creatively with children and young people. It is vital for us to help find ways to inspire children to understand the importance of the arts and for them to be given the opportunity to express their innate creativity.

What do you like least? Not having enough minutes in the day!

Why did you want to do this job? It’s perfect for me. I wanted to be part-time so I can work as a freelance visual artist. This includes the set and costume design for Mrs Lutwidge and the Magic of the North Pier Lighthouse, exhibiting my own artwork and working on projects for Cumbria Family Arts Network, Prism Arts and others.

Also, the job really appealed because of my personal connections. As a teenager I volunteered for Rosehill and worked in the bistro. I have a deep affection for the theatre and its ethos.

I also have a personal interest in the Sekers story. I grew up down the road from the factory, some of my friends and family worked there and I spent most of the 1980s making clothes and was clad in treasured curtain fabric I bought from the factory shop. I felt I was the bee’s knees!

What jobs have you done previously? I have built up many years of experience in community arts, from working on a play bus in Oxford and operating out of an inflatable tent in some of the most deprived housing estates in Hackney, East London, to running the arts department at Howgill Family Centre, Cleator Moor, for 14 years.

In the 1990s I made a slight career change which saw me become a food buyer for Conran Restaurants and a hotel inspector for Les Routiers.

What qualifications or experience do you need? I have a degree in visual studies and anthropology.

What is a typical salary for this job? Not enough!

Any advice for people wanting to get into your profession? Make time to develop your own artistic practice and keep up-to-date with developments in the arts. It’s also far too easy to get stuck in the everyday. Take inspiration from others and collaborate where possible.

Our funders.


Dorothy Palmer - 2023-07-09

Lovely little theatre with a very varied programme. Good bar, and a lovely atmosphere.

Helen Conolly - 2023-07-08

An intimate, cosy and comfortable theatre. Friendly and helpful staff. Pleasant bar area.
Rosehill consistently provides fantastic shows. We are fortunate to attract such talented performers to visit our theatre.

John Shallcross - 2023-07-07

Excellent productions in a friendly first class theatre. I haven't been disappointed, yet.

Linda Tranter - 2023-07-05

Rosehill is a hidden gem. The theatre is special and makes you feel as if you are going some where special.

Peter Hinde - 2023-07-06

Superb venue, clean, and the theatre is beautiful. Saw a film for the first time last night, sound and picture were awesome. Highly recommended.