Anna Hainsworth, 34, from Arbroath, is an Arts, Festival and Cultural Management student at QMU.

Before arriving at QMU, Anna was already living in Edinburgh and working as a Project Officer at the Scottish Chamber Orchestra.

Why did you choose to study Arts, Festival and Cultural Management at QMU and in Edinburgh?

I was really keen to move up the career ladder and came across the MA Arts, Festival and Cultural Management at QMU whilst browsing the Creative Scotland opportunities website.

I realised it would be an ideal way to develop my knowledge of the cultural sector and provide a theoretical basis for skills I had already developed through my professional practice.

The fact that QMU is so close to the centre of Edinburgh was a bonus, which meant I could combine my existing full time job with studying.

Living in Edinburgh is brilliant! It’s a beautiful city and I love that my walk from work to home takes me along the Royal Mile, with its historical buildings and gothic cathedral, and the beautiful Meadows park.

 It’s a city which is compact enough to get around on foot yet there’s always something going on and new bars and cafes opening.

As a dog owner, I think the Hermitage in Morningside is an absolute gem – just a few yards away from Morningside Road and you can be surrounded by woodland and a beautiful running stream. Edinburgh’s hills are a real gem as well. Walking up Blackford Hill and looking out across the city, the sea and the Pentland Hills – bliss!”

 What have been the highlights of the course so far?

For me, the modules in Strategic Management & Finance and Marketing have been the most interesting. The finance element was brilliant at providing a solid basis for understanding accounts and how the financial side of a cultural organisation works. It’s made dealing with budgets less daunting and I feel confident speaking to senior colleagues about finance issues.

The marketing module was great as it was delivered by someone working in the sector and gave very practical advice on marketing events. It also introduced me to the theory behind marketing, which has been really helpful when making a case to my colleagues for us to adopt certain marketing strategies and approaches.

One activity which wasn’t particularly enjoyable at the time but was really useful, was creating a Risk Register for our group project. It was a cumbersome piece of work but I know now that I could put together a comprehensive risk plan for my organisation and that it’s not something only the Chief Executive can do.

Generally the course has given me more confidence in my abilities. Before I felt I could probably do things but didn’t quite know where to start or what they would entail. Now I feel more prepared for the next step in my career.”

Are you combining work and study?

 About a year after starting the course, I got a new job as General Manager with Hebrides Ensemble, one of Scotland’s foremost chamber music groups.  

I’m sure that the course helped me in getting this job as I have more skills and a better understanding of the sector than before I started.

As General Manager, I look after the day to day running of the ensemble. This includes creating and updating budgets, marketing concerts and events, writing contracts for players, liaising with venues – all sorts of work.  

I love the variety of my role and what I’ve learnt on the course comes into most aspects of my job. I’m doing my dissertation on audience development for contemporary classical music, so my studies will help develop our ensemble’s future planning as well as positively contributing to the sector as a whole.”

What are your top tips(s) for future Arts, Festivals and Cultural Management students?

I’d advise people interested in the course to be clear about their priorities and what they want to get out of it. It’s difficult to balance full time work with part time study, but if you’re clear about your reasons for doing the course, it’s easier to make it work.”

Postgraduate funding

"The fact that QMU is so close to the centre of Edinburgh was a bonus, which meant I could combine my existing full time job with studying."
Anna Hainsworth