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Jack Finlay at Elektronika

Working as an Associate Producer across major events at the age of 22 is no mean feat. Hard work and dedication have paid off for Jack Finlay who now forms part of producing company Elektronika (previously Electric Theatre Workshop). He works across the popular Big Burns Supper - 12 days of comedy, theatre, cabaret and more, Carlisle Fringe Festival, Le Haggis - a five star award winning cabaret show part of Big Burns Supper, Dumfries Community Choir, and more. 

It all started with dreams of being an actor and a BTECH diploma in Performance in Carlisle. Just before Jack was due to start his second year, he heard about, applied for and started a yearlong Associate Artist Internship with Electric Theatre Workshop (ETW), leaving Carlisle to return to his home in Dumfries and Galloway.

During his internship, he worked on theatre and community arts including the Dumfries and Galloway Community Choir, Dumfries Youth Theatre and Big Burns Supper. On top of that he also found himself working in the marketing and PR department where he learnt how to tailor press releases and proper PR etiquette.

His work across a range of different departments during his internship helped him land a Creative Modern Apprenticeship with ETW led by Fife College. The focus of this was community arts. Jack learned about the role community participation plays in Big Burns Supper. He was tasked with how to better engage the community with projects like the Lantern Parade and Burns Night Carnival which further broadened his knowledge of the company’s work. From there, he was then promoted to Communications Manager before starting in his current role as Associate Producer in July 2017.

Jack now works across three main areas; delivering content and programming, press and marketing and stage management for Le Haggis. From programming local acts and securing Bill Bailey to perform at Big Burns Supper 2018, to securing coverage in national newspapers and supporting the rigging and lifting of aerial performers on stage, Jack’s role is nothing if it isn’t varied.

Jack and female colleague on stage

Every day is different. Every day is a challenge. The portfolio I look after covers three massive areas of our organisation. One day I could be curating work and engaging with talented artists, the next I could be working with Scotland’s leading PR teams. I am really lucky that my work crosses over so many different parts of the industry.

Jack is so passionate and positive about what he does and it means a great deal to him. From the outside it can seem like a very glamourous job but it is the purpose of his work that drives him.

People are probably one of the most important parts of my work. Our audience is, of course, at the heart of everything that we do. To watch them get out of their seats and clap their hands or see them having a brilliant experience; that is really satisfying.

Saying that, from Jack’s experience it is about so much more than just entertaining audiences, it is the people he gets to work with and the role his work plays in their lives and his community.

For me, the arts scene has the ability to cure and help people. Looking at the platforms that we deliver, particularly the Dumfries Youth Theatre and Dumfries Community Choir, they can be a real lifeline for those involved, to take them out of rural isolation and bring people together, giving them something they really enjoy and take pride in.

Not to mention the volunteers we work with across Big Burns Supper. When our volunteers don their tartan berets, they transform into the real spirit and heart of the festival. It’s quite magical. They are the best advocates for what we do. It is great to see them having so much fun and spreading the love for what we are trying to achieve.

Jack has been greatly supported from the start by Graham Main, Executive Producer at Elektronica. From presenting the initial opportunity to his continued guidance and mentorship over the last five years, Jack has learnt so much from him.

He is probably the core foundation of my creative journey as a young producer in Scotland. Without his support, I would not be the Producer I am today.

The events and festivals sector has opened so many doors for Jack. From initially wanting to be an actor to now producing major events it has given him a career that he loves in his home country.

There are people who are culturally and artistically active everywhere in Scotland. Its event calendar is absolutely rammed week by week, 365 days a year. I come from a small fishing town but it is absolutely buzzing with cultural activity. Scotland opens its arms to art and culture and embraces it. If you want to get involved in events and festivals you just need to take a look at your surroundings as there are opportunities to get involved everywhere.

Jack would one day like to explore the world for a little while, possibly working at other festivals, before coming back to Scotland to manage his own major event. Although not quite sure what he will celebrate as part of his own festival, at only 22, Jack has lots of time to figure out how to further establish himself in an industry that he loves and continue on a career path that will no doubt lead to even more success. 

Jack has now moved on from Elektronika to explore other avenues in the events and festivals industry.

Hear from other young tourism ambassadors featured as part of the Future Focus series.