By Lisa Mallaghan: 8 July 2020
It’s time I face up to it: After 14 years, I have left Mind the Gap. 1-week before what should have been my leaving do, the country went into lockdown, and I still firmly state that I haven’t officially left until that leaving do happens! But it’s time I face that at some point that party will happen, and I until then, need to stop convincing myself I’m still there.
I had 14 incredible years at MTG. The company saw me grow from Project Administrator – Project Manager – Marketing Officer – Business Development Manager – Senior Producer. And of course, the company also saw me grow my three beautiful children. And where so many women face appalling discrimination when becoming parents, I was unbelievably fortunate to be faced with flexibility, support, kindness, understanding and often promotions! How many companies can boast such opportunities for staff progression and such family friendly ways of working? It’s one of the reasons I stayed with the company for so long: I wanted to pay back the generosity I was shown (employers – take note!). I will be forever grateful.
I am unbelievably proud of what the company has achieved in those 14 years, and of the part I played in its development. Highlights will always be Irresistible (which I not only booked the European tour for but got to go along with as a singer in the cast!), Stig of the Dump, the talented and hard-working artists, the amazing Academy students, the Daughters of Fortune project, including what became my swan song – ZARA, an epic outdoor production with a giant baby puppet and hundreds of people in the cast and team. And of course the freelancers, companies and partnerships involved along the way; the fantastic Access All Areas and Hijinx, the Creative Minds network, L’Oiseau Mouche in France, Moomsteatern in Sweden, Walk the Plank, Emergency Exit Arts, and venues like The Albany in Deptford who have programmed, backed and supported MTGs’ work for literally 20 years. Another of those venues is Square Chapel in Halifax, and I just can’t believe it’s closed down due to this crisis – somebody save it, please.
When I come on board to administrate the Capital development of MTG Studios (which btw will always be mine – I reckon I’m the only person who knows where every wire, connection, switch and facility is and what they do! I digress…), when I came on board in 2006, we were a company of about 6 staff, 8 students and 8 artists, and we reached around 3,000 people per year. Leaving in 2020, we are a company of 26 staff, 70 students, 15 artists, and we reach around 20,000 people per year. What a ride.
It wasn’t always an easy one, there were some really big bumps in the road, but I’m so glad I stuck it out, and I’ve got the incredible leadership and friendship of Julia Skelton to thank for that.
And the people… this is where the admitting I’m leaving / have left becomes so hard. You can’t work for 14 years for a company that is all about supporting the development and growth of talented individuals, and showing the world what people can do, without growing some really deeply connected relationships. You can’t help to support people every day through discrimination, prejudice, abuse, battling for equality and respect, basic rights, social services, benefits traps… and somehow still laugh with those same people all the time, without that becoming deeply ingrained in your life, ways of thinking, behaving, and being. I am changed and better because of this company.
It’s so corny, but MTG truly is a family, and even if you move away you can never really leave a family. I am happy to be leaving them in the very safe hands of MTG’s new Senior Producer, Deborah Dickinson – enjoy the ride Deborah! And anyway, I live 10 mins down the road, so if the alarm goes off in the night, don’t worry – I’ll be there.