Former Front of House Volunteer and HighTide Festival 2016 Duty Manager, Ione Wells, discusses what its like to be a part of the HighTide Festival family.
"I feel very lucky to have been part of such a welcoming creative community that is only going from strength to strength."
It’s been ten months since my last job for HighTide, and I still never shut up about it.
I’m all, “this one time, at HighTide” and “this show I saw at HighTide” – with good reason.
That reason being that two years ago, at a loose end during my summer holidays, I noticed an advertisement to be part of the Front of House team for a theatre festival in Suffolk and – not knowing what to expect – sent in an application. A year later, I’d enjoyed my Front of House experience at HighTide so much that I was back again for another year, this time as the festival’s Duty Manager.
Anyone who has worked in the arts or festival world will know that it’s hard work. It often involves long hours on your feet, lots of admin, and late nights celebrating the day’s work at the bar after – if that’s up your street.
But in a working environment that is fun and constantly stimulating, such hard work is worth every minute and HighTide has been an excellent example of that. I have met so many great friends and industry contacts over the two years – fellow HighTide team members and front of house, technicians, actors, board members and customers alike – and I have had the chance to premiere some first-class theatre and comedy before it goes on to bigger stages around the country. All in a beautiful, seaside setting that – when the working day is done – makes it feel like I could be on holiday not at work.
Last year, I helped set up the inaugural ‘HighTide swim club’, who ventured out for morning dips in the sea before the day began (not obligatory, but highly recommended. There are few things more special than catching the morning sun on an empty beach with the peaceful sound of the sea to set you up for the day).
After that, it’d be a morning meeting where we would get the whole team together to discuss the day ahead and air any queries before getting stuck in. A typical day at HighTide would involve helping out the production teams for all the shows with setting up the venues, managing the box office and helping customers, and performing front of house duties for whichever shows you are working on that day – as well as seeing any panels, theatre, comedy or music of your choice when you have shifts off during the day!
Aldeburgh is a beautiful seaside town, so I’d often use any break to wander down the beach for some fish and chips or a bite to eat from one of the many picturesque fishing shacks, or an ice cream. At the end of the day, once the lights have gone down on the last show, anyone who was up for it – HighTide, actors, technicians – tended to gather for a drink to relax at one of the lovely local bars and pubs including the East Coast Cafe and Cross Keys, both are a must.
The work at HighTide gave me some fantastic experience in theatre including communication and management skills for front of house, technical training on the ticketing software Spektrix, and a unique taste of life behind the scenes and production of high-quality theatre.
I am so excited to see how HighTide grows, with its expansion to Walthamstow in London this year too, and feel very lucky to have been part of such a welcoming creative community that is only going from strength to strength.
Fancy being part of the team this year? Applications are still open for our Front of House volunteers. Deadline to apply is midday on Monday 24th July. Find out more here.
We are also on the look out for a HighTide Festival Box Office Manager. Find out more and apply here.