I am Ellie, Coney’s Playful Communications Officer. It might just be the coolest job title I ever have.
Just under a year ago, I put the finishing touches to my application for a job with the most mysterious of arts organisations, Coney. I’d tried, with what little information I had about them, to do something a bit different, something that they would enjoy. My application consisted of CV, a covering letter, and a special online treasure-trail featuring a four page comic, that I drew and coloured by hand.
After two rounds of interviews – one in real life, one on Skype, and lots of intriguing tasks and questions, not to mention the usual few days of waiting for a decision, I received a phone call from an unfamiliar number. A man by the name of Agent Smoki Vitch had got in touch with a message from Rabbit, asking if I thought I was Coney’s new Playful Communications Officer. He then gave me a number to call to find out the answer, which turned out to be the number of Annette, one of the three Coney co-directors, who confirmed that I was their choice for the role.
I find that explaining my recruitment process gives people some idea of what Coney is like. Coney currently describes itself as an ‘agency of adventure and play’, and when people ask me what that means, I normally explain that we are a theatre company that makes a range of work: live performance, experiences, installations, digital stuff, games and play. Oh, and we also do lots of educational work, consultancy and research. If I’m feeling brave I also tell them that we make work based on three principles: Loveliness, Adventure and Curiosity. If their head hasn’t exploded by this point, I sometimes add in that we are all members of the (not very) secret Society of Coney, which anyone can join if they are game.
As you can imagine, working for Coney is not straightforward, but it is a very exciting place to be. My role is similarly (and delightfully) un-straightforward. I spent the first few months trying to get a handle on what Coney’s work comprises, and how many projects are running / about to happen / are in the pipeline, and realised that the thing that links all the projects together is the Playful Communications that feature at the heart of them all: fun, mischievous, magical messages of all kinds, delivered via a variety of digital and non-digital platforms. Once I’d figured this out, I could start to develop my plans for putting my arts and marketing experience to good use for Coney.
My every day duties would likely be familiar to any arts marketer (marketing projects, writing and editing copy, social networking, writing newsletters, blogs, managing mailing lists and press enquiries), but there is often an added playful dimension to my work, as my title suggests. I regularly find myself communicating with audience members as a character rather than myself, making postcards and clues, facilitating or participating in Coney’s regular Playdays, reverse pick-pocketing people, drawing out giant maps and charts, devising and playtesting games and theatrical happenings, hunting down and sharing interesting art and theatre pieces, researching people and places, managing a Twitter dedicated to Coney’s love of tea and other fun things.
I’ve also been project-managing a new website for Coney, and planning new marketing and communications strategies to put into action. Much more serious, but still really fun.
Since I started, I have watched Coney shift from an informal group of artists and makers towards a more structured company and network, with projects happening all over the world. It has been, and continues to be, an incredibly interesting journey – one that has characterised my time here so far. I’ve been extremely lucky to be part of an organisation with a non-hierarchical, collaborative culture, where I’ve been encouraged to get involved with every aspect of Coney’s creative work. I’ve helped on a creative consultancy, co-created real world games, performed in live pieces and led workshops. I am grateful that my opinion has been valued by my colleagues, and I have been able to help shape what Coney’s communications look like now and in the future.
My position is currently made possible by DCMS Jerwood Creative Bursaries Scheme, a scheme to help launch the careers of young arts graduates who were not in the position to work for free upon finishing their studies. The scheme has been invaluable to me, providing me with a great, creative job, a mentor to guide me in my professional development and networking events where I have been lucky enough to connect with the other bursary holders and explore the projects they have been working on.