15th November 2023

Posted by Creative Colchester

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Meet The Board: Abbi Roberts, A Quickfire Q&A

Abbi Roberts, Director of Development, Mercury Theatre

Who are the board of Creative Colchester and what do they do?  Welcome to the first in our mini-post series about who our board are, how they got to where they are and what they plan to do in the future.  Programme Manager Anna’s first interviewee is the Mercury’s Director of Development, Abbi Roberts talking fundraising and…fish?
1. What is your role and how would you describe what you do?
As Development Director and member of SMT at the Mercury Theatre I manage all voluntary income – this includes grants and funding applications, individual giving and donations, memberships and corporate giving including sponsorship. Anything outside of commercial or ticket income I will have some involvement in, so it’s very varied and always interesting!
2. What is your first creative memory?
Probably visiting a museum or National Trust property as a young child, or creating what was no doubt a very messy work of art at the kitchen table
3. How did you get into the creative industries?  Did you always think you would have the role you have now?
I come from a fundraising background so I came into the arts from that angle. I’ve always liked the idea of being in the creative industries so it was always an area of charity I looked at when looking for new opportunities. Having grown up in the area and looking to move back it was perfect timing when this role came up!
4.  What was your first job? 
My first full time job was in an oyster sorting/packing shed, wearing wellies and gloves and stinking of the sea 6 days a week
5.  What has been your hardest professional challenge and how did you overcome it?
I think having to grow a pretty thick skin in fundraising and development as 4 out of 5 times it is a ‘no’ over a ‘yes’ when applying to or asking for money. You have to learn from it rather than taking it too personally and move on. I always think if a funder says no to us that’s their loss!
6.   Give us one piece of advice for a young person (or anyone for that matter!) that wants to work in your sector?
Don’t just think about the obvious jobs. In theatre, you could work in IT, marketing or project management and administration but still be part of a team and get the buzz of seeing a show open, knowing you were part of it!
7.  What is the most inspiring creative moment you’ve had this year?

I saw a stunning live gig at St Pancras Old Church in London in April. Joy Oladokun is a brilliant singer/songwriter and that evening it felt like we all witnessed the beginning of something big. Spine-tingling talent!