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Welsh Government

Focus Wales' story

Natalie Jones, Artist Liaison Manager

Focus Wales is one of the biggest events in the Welsh music calendar with more than 20,000 attendees and offers a huge range of music and event roles across the festival from stage management and building, to sound engineering and liaising with artists and press.

Natalie Louise Jones, Artist Liaison Manager

Natalie had been working in the heritage sector for 12 years until a new opportunity in events allowed her to work in her passion for live music.

At Focus Wales Natalie has progressed from being responsible for single shows to managing more than 250 artists for the entire festival.

“I’ve always been a music fan and into live music, there’s a really vibrant music scene in Wrexham that I wanted to be a part of.

“The first time I got involved in events was as a volunteer, at local gigs, just as a way of getting a free ticket! It sort of grew from there, one opportunity came up that led to another and now it’s a career for me.

“I started out managing shows, and graduated to stage management and then to artist liaison manager which is quite a big job with a lot of responsibility. I really enjoy it.

“All the artists report to me, and all the venues report to me and I’m the go-between.

“I’m in the office ahead of the event and once the festival is open I’ll be talking to everyone making sure that everyone involved knows where they need to be.

“It goes from filling envelopes in the office to then at the end of the day you’re watching the show, having the time of your life and everything in between.

Speaking about her move from heritage to events work Natalie said: “My BA in Heritage Management and my Museum Studies Master’s degree had already given me experience of management and taught me how to deal with multiple projects at the same time. It is  also much like events in the sense that they feed a passion for sharing culture and cultural experiences.

“What appealed about working in events was the fact that you get to work while enjoying your hobby.

Working in live events has really given me a lot of confidence, a lot more confidence in myself and my abilities. It doesn’t feel like a job, it feels like you’re allowed behind the scenes.”

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Neal Thompson, Festival Director and Co-founder

Neal founded the festival in 2011 to bring acts from around the world to Wales and to give an international platform for Welsh artists.

“An event on this scale requires a small army of people to work in various different roles – from live production and very hands-on work where people are constructing large tent stages outside, to building PA systems, lighting and staging and so on.

“There are also public-facing roles working with artists, staffing box offices, working in various different locations across the event.

“There’s obvious benefits to being part of something like Focus Wales, there’s the hands on-experience, the networking opportunities and on the other side the personal and professional development.

“We try to give people working at the event a chance to try a range of different roles and also develop transferrable skills across the board that are beneficial in lots of different industries.

“Some of our staff have also enrolled in Welsh for Adults courses and graduated to Foundation level courses at Coleg Cambria, the local college. These lessons are paid for by Focus Wales.

“I think the best thing about working in events is the group, the people you get to work with, everybody comes together to make something unique happen.

There’s something very special about going from the very beginning of an event and seeing it through and delivering it and seeing thousands of people enjoying something that you’ve helped create, it’s really special.”

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