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Ten Minutes With… Lucy Bayliss

18 Nov 2020

Lucy Bayliss, photo by hmdigiart 


Lucy Bayliss is Head of Creative Programmes here at DanceEast. Earlier this year, we asked Lucy more about her job, how she progressed to where she is now in her career, and what it means to be a Clore Fellow.

Hi Lucy, introduce yourself!

Hello! I’m Lucy and I do all manner of things: I’m a mum, wife, daughter, sister, friend, lover of all things dance and champion of all things creative. In my day job, I’m Head of Creative Programmes for DanceEast, which means that I lead the Creative Team and work across all three of our programme areas; the DanceEast Centre for Advanced Training (CAT) and BA (Hons) Dance Degree with the University of Suffolk , Community & Outreach and Theatre programme, and support to artists. I am part of the Senior Management Team so work with our Board and stakeholders too, which means that about half my time is spent focussing inside the organisation and about half looking outside, maintaining key relationships and developing new ones.

What is your favourite thing about your job?

I am a lifelong dance fan, so the best thing has to be that I am able to be really close to the action. Usually (pre-Covid) we are surrounded by artists, students and participants, and we get to share our passions with a huge range of different people, both inside and outside the building. I enjoy a lot of variety in my role, which means I am often challenged, and never bored – just how I like it.

How did you progress to where you are now in your career?

My mum was a ballet teacher so being around dance is all I’ve ever known. I’ve done a few things outside dance which has really fed into my project management and customer-facing skills. I dabbled with teaching early on, then started to take an arts management career more seriously when I saw the possibilities that might be open to me – which wasn’t until I’d graduated from both University and a vocational school.

My first dance management roles were voluntary and then freelance, around a ‘money job’ managing a studio programme in a gym. I then started working in community and education projects, which is how I first found my way to DanceEast, many moons ago on a Maternity Cover contract. Since then, I have worked as a Programme Manager for community programmes, before developing the Centre for Advanced Training for DanceEast and managing that for a few years, whilst also doing my Masters alongside full-time work – bonkers now I look back. From there I moved into my first Senior Management role. I’ve been really lucky to have had a lot of opportunities to develop throughout my time and DanceEast, and I’ve reciprocated with a LOT of hard graft.

What is something you wish more people knew about the arts industry?

I wish that there was a greater appreciation of the whole spectrum of highly skilled careers and professionals working across the arts and cultural industries. There is a lot of focus on the people out front – dancers, choreographers, performers of any type – but behind the scenes there are a multitude of other roles necessary to make the whole thing work. The lack of awareness of these roles mean that young people often check out of considering a career in the arts if they don’t see their futures on-stage. The majority of people working in our sector are not on stage but are working in highly skilled, dedicated and rewarding roles elsewhere.

I also wish there was a greater equality of access at primary school age, so that at the youngest age, children could get to make an informed choice about whether the arts are something they enjoy – but that’s a rant for another day.

You are part of the Clore Fellowship 2019/20 cohort, what is a Clore Fellow and what do they do?

The Clore Leadership Programme works with cultural sector professionals to ‘understand and develop their leadership strengths, providing spaces to challenge prevalent ideas and beliefs and develop confidence in their leadership styles and potential for impact.’ The Fellowship is a year-long programme with a whole range of experiences, training and opportunities to tailor the time to your own needs and ambitions.

It’s so rare to be able to take time out of the day-job to consider all things life, culture and future and the Fellowship has enabled me to do that with a group of people that inspire and challenge me in equal measure. It’s an absolute privilege to have been selected and I’m still living it now and in touch with my cohort daily – 25 inspiring individuals from 8 countries across the world working in arts, libraries, culture and heritage settings. They are an amazing bunch!

What is the best piece of work you’ve seen in the last year, either digitally or in person?

Well, I’m definitely not going to be able to pick one piece – I’ve enjoyed so much recently, although I really really miss live, in-person performance.

The last live piece I saw in person was Bar Groisman’s Aize Balagan as part of Resolution! at The Place. Bar is an early-career choreographer and former student of our CAT programme. I was excited to see her first foray into her professional career and thought that she produced a strong and well-structured piece with an interesting style, well executed by her performers.

Online, I think one of the most memorable pieces of dance I have watched recently was Botis Seva’s film Can’t Kill Us All as part of the BBC’s Filmed in Lockdown series. Such a moving and powerful piece and so completely relevant to the time we are in.

I’ve been consciously trying to explore a wider range of cultural experiences too and had a great time watching some shows made with younger audiences in mind. I enjoyed the energy of an exceptional cast in Pilot Theatre’s Crongton Knights – a recording of their live show which I was due to see on tour. Also, I was bowled over by the creative use of Zoom in Creation Theatre’s Alice | A Virtual Theme Park, which my children absolutely loved watching with me.


Thanks for reading! You can find out more about the DanceEast Centre for Advanced Training by clicking here!