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Your Future – Emma Turner

Communications Lead & Facilitator Artist at Prism Arts

– Tell us about your career path

“I’m very passionate about art, I always have been. I left Carlisle to study animation at Edinburgh University. At the time I thought the only way to get a job was to do animation then work in that industry. But that's not really what I wanted. After graduating I changed my plans and decided to become a primary teacher which was a bit left field. But after a while I realised there were bits about both that I really enjoy, the visual arts and teaching. So, I left my teaching position and started looking for a role that combines everything I’m interested in, communicating with others but in a creative way.

“Whenever I looked on a job search platform it didn’t feel like there was lots of opportunities for me. I started volunteering at a museum and I spotted the role of facilitator artist at Prism Arts. I’d done my work experience there when I was 16 and I’d really enjoyed it, so I knew it was a great place to work. I applied and got the job. I started to become immersed in the creative community in Carlisle and was surprised to find so many people with the same interests. As a facilitator artist I work with lots of people from different organisations and that was really exciting. I built up my role and took on more responsibilities, particularly around increasing our reach and improving how we connect with others. So, when our communications lead left, I put myself forward enthusiastically on an interim basis. Fast forward three months and I was made permanent in the post.”

– What’s your top tip for someone wanting a job like yours?

“If you're a creative person, there are actually many pathways into being an artist, whether it's a community artist, a facilitator, a workshop runner, especially in Cumbria, there's so many opportunities. Creativity is a viable career pathway. It's not something that’s spoken about enough. I’ve followed the advice given to me to say yes when you get an opportunity. Just say yes as much as you can to things that excite you and it will lead to the place where you need to be.”

– What brought you back to Cumbria?

“I left Carlisle because I wanted to try a new environment and see what it was like elsewhere. The draw of a big city was interesting, and I thought there would be more opportunities available. I came back to Cumbria during lockdown, but I think I was always destined to come back because I really like the community feel.”

– What’s your advice to anyone thinking about whether they should leave or stay in Cumbria?
  • “Opportunities: I wish I’d have been more aware of opportunities within the county. I thought you had to travel to bigger cities to find the art, culture and history that interest me, but it turns out creative networks and jobs were on my doorstep, I just didn’t know it.
  • Art, history, culture: We’re a big county and there’s so much going on across our communities, some really exciting, unique cultural experiences and events that you can be part of.
  • Natural beauty: We’re surrounded by beautiful landscapes that you just don’t get anywhere else. It’s a beautiful place to live.
  • Easy travel/commuting: Cumbria is perfectly located to enjoy cities like Edinburgh, Newcastle, Manchester. It's in the middle of those great big hubs, but you also get those quiet experience of the Lakes.
  • Cost of living: I can't really imagine living anywhere else. In terms of living costs, it's a cheap place to live. Working in the third sector doesn’t always mean the highest paying jobs but in terms of quality of live I have an unrivalled life here that I don’t think I’d get anywhere else.”

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