A DAY IN THE LIFE
Kirkgate is a real community organisation with a strong volunteer contingent working alongside our small staff. After 28 years, and especially following the challenges of the Covid-19 era, we staff and volunteers are more determined than ever to keep developing, stay relevant and provide Cockermouth and West Cumbria with great entertainment and cultural activities.
The volunteer this month telling us more about her involvement with Kirkgate is Marion Bowman:
‘I was born and brought up in Maryport, and went to the old Cockermouth Grammar School. When I was living in London and working in television, I was very impressed to hear about the campaign to set up an arts centre at the old All Saints school in Cockermouth. So when I came back to live in the area, I started coming to films and gigs at the Kirkgate. In my teenage years I used to go to the folk club in the Black Bull pub on Main Street, so it was great to see professional musicians in the Kirkgate’s intimate theatre. Musicians say the acoustic is great!
From starting as a customer, I eventually joined the Board as a trustee, and then I was Chair for six years. I stepped down last year after we got going again following the end of the Covid lockdowns and Emma Heys, General Manager, and Chloe Maitland, Community Projects Officer, joined the staff. Another Maryport girl also now living in Cockermouth, Sue Moses, took over as Chair. I went to school with Sue!
I really enjoy being part of Kirkgate. I’ve made new friends, enjoyed a lot of shows and activities, and been involved in some significant decision-making. I’m still volunteering, mainly behind the scenes as a member of the Communications Group which deals with marketing, publicity and things like news releases for the local media. I’m also sometimes called on to perform, but only in an MC kind of role as at the Book Festival last month, or occasionally doing an interview on behalf of Kirkgate for BBC Radio Cumbria.
Community life has been very important to me ever since my childhood in Maryport which had strong traditions of mutual support, amateur singing and entertainment, and youth clubs. Having venues such as Kirkgate where people can come together and celebrate their own community’s talents and history as well as learn about the wider world is vital for our small West Cumbrian towns.
Kirkgate Arts and Heritage currently has vacancies for new trustees – there are lots of opportunities to influence the future of the organisation when you’re on the Board, and that also means influencing what kind of town Cockermouth is, and what it offers to local residents and visitors of all ages. I’d recommend becoming a trustee to anyone, so if you are interested in helping out and being part of something really important, do join the team!’