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Au’Guest’ Blog post – Meet Laurence, a man of many (actually two) hats

Written by Laurence Hill, our Festival Manager of Brighton Digital Festival, as part of the Wired Sussex guest blog month

I’m currently wearing two hats, juggling two jobs, plate spinning, running around like a mad man and all in all a tiny bit stressed but I couldn’t be happier. Professionally, I couldn’t imagine myself in a better place (unless there was, you know, more money).

Let me explain. I have two part time jobs – one that I’ve had for a while and one that is relatively new and I’m passionate about both. I’m Head of Audiences at Fabrica – a contemporary visual art gallery in the heart of Brighton and Festival Manager for the Brighton Digital Festival, based at Wired Sussex.

Now there are two things that I’m particularly interested in, arts and digital and the places where they overlap. Essentially I’m interested in digital culture, so working in an arts organization and managing the BDF, which is a celebration of digital culture means I’m in a pretty happy and privileged position.

The arts and digital sectors are incredibly important to both the economy and the culture of Brighton. Fabrica is the city’s leading visual arts gallery and Wired Sussex is the key supporter of the digital sector, so to have a role in both organisations is fantastic. The opportunity to walk a line professionally between the two sectors moving from one to the other is really exciting and I’m hoping that I can continue to do so.

And I got there through a particularly circuitous route, a long, a probably not very interesting circuitous route, so I’ll skip most of it and start in 2003, which was when I arrived in Brighton. Following a period of illness, I had no job when I landed here and immediately set out to do some voluntary work. I started volunteering at Fabrica because I reasoned that if I was going to volunteer then I wanted to do it in a sector that really interested me. Over time the volunteering turned into bits of paid work and then a particular job that has grown and morphed to the point that I am now part of the senior management team.

During that time as my interest in digital grew, I set out to get to know (am still getting to know) people in the sector in Brighton. I had no career aspirations in mind, I was just curious and interested to know more, so I made an effort to meet people in the sector whenever I could and get involved wherever I could. Eventually what came from that was the opportunity to work as Festival Manager for the Brighton Digital Festival in 2012.

There wasn’t a grand plan to get here – I’ve never been the sort of person that has a 5-year career plan with milestones and critical paths laid out. So maybe I got here through dumb luck or maybe because given the opportunity I just pursued the things that interested me and that has paid off.

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