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Meet Helen Palmer.
Manchester-based Helen Palmer, CEO at Palmer Squared, has amassed over 25 years of experience working within and for theatres, arts organisations, museums, galleries, heritage sites, and festivals across the UK.
In our interview, I create Helen's perfect cultural year from the answers to 10 questions. Expect the unexpected and some surprises.
Helen played a pivotal role in the establishment and execution of various notable initiatives, including Cultureshock (Commonwealth Games North West Cultural Programme), the inaugural Manchester International Festival, and the Marketing Co-ordination Unit at Marketing Manchester. For a decade, she served as Joint Head of Marketing at the British Ceramics Biennial.
During her tenure until 2021, Helen was one of the founding directors of CTConsults. Currently, she holds the position of Press & Comms Lead for Walk the Plank's UNBOXED: Creativity in the UK commission - Green Space Dark Skies.
Helen's expertise lies in communications, strategic advocacy, audience development, and cultural marketing. With a proven track record in project delivery, Helen and her associates specialise in providing services such as strategic communications, stakeholder advocacy, marketing strategy, brand development, audience development, evaluation, and campaign delivery.
Quick meeting recap
Helen shared her passion for arts and culture, discussing her experience with the Commonwealth Games cultural program in Manchester and her admiration for the General Electric Building in New York.
She expressed interest in conducting a hypothetical year-long study of arts and culture in Italy, with Florence as her base city. She also mentioned her favorite book and drink, and her love for Frank Sinatra's "easy listening" genre. She imagined a cultural tour in Florence, with a desire to see a contemporary or traditional ballet featuring Margo Fontaine and Rudolph Nureyev.
Palmer's Cultural Exchange and Italy Study Plan
Mark and Helen Palmer discussed Helen's work and her involvement in the Commonwealth Games cultural program in Manchester in 2002. Helen also shared her expertise in strategic communications and her experience working on the Manchester International Festival.
She revealed her love for the General Electric Building in New York and her favorite book and drink. When asked, Helen expressed interest in conducting a year-long study of arts and culture in Italy, noting the country's historical significance and her personal connection. She chose Florence as her base city for the project.
Genre Study and Dance Performance Discussion
Mark and Helen discussed a condition for a year-long study, which involved restricting Helen's musical listening to one genre. Helen chose Frank Sinatra's "easy listening" genre, which includes the great American songbook.
They also talked about a hypothetical scenario where Helen would be taken to a dance performance in Italy. Helen expressed a wish to see a contemporary or traditional ballet featuring Margo Fontaine and Rudolph Nureyev, particularly in a ballet like Manon.
Italian Cuisine and Sports Event Planning
Mark and Helen discussed post-show activities during their trip to Italy. Helen, a vegetarian with gluten and lactose intolerance, expressed her preference for Italian cuisine, specifically gluten-free options.
Mark suggested that they attend a sporting event, where Helen showed interest in watching a football match. They also planned to visit a new digital art gallery in Florence, where Helen expressed her admiration for Bill Viola's work, but mentioned that she would prefer to see real paintings if possible.
Theatre and Musicals Discussion
Mark and Helen had a discussion about their interest in theatre and musicals. Helen expressed her preference for musicals, citing her PhD in film musicals, and mentioned that she would have liked to see the original production of Oklahoma from 1943. They also talked about the dream ballet sequence in Singin' in the Rain. Helen revealed that she would like to see The Red Shoes at an old cinema in Florence, and Mark asked if it was available on streaming platforms. They concluded the conversation by imagining having lunch with her arts and culture hero, with Helen choosing Lawrence Olivier to discuss the early days of the National Theatre.
Florence Cultural Tour
Mark and Helen discussed a cultural tour in Florence. Mark emphasised the flexibility and freedom of the day, with no commitments or plans, and all expenses paid. Helen expressed her interest in visiting the museums and galleries, but shared her frustration with long queues, often impacting the experience. Mark offered a solution with a 'Beckham entrance' for quicker access to the museums and galleries, and also mentioned a guide for assistance.
Website Profile Creation and Network Matchmaking
Mark and Helen discussed the creation of this profile for thewebsite, with Mark agreeing to add links to her site. Mark also introduced Helen to a Whatsapp group for full members, where she shares her work and interacts.
Mark outlined the ground rules for posting in the group, asking Helen to share her work publicly and expect others to do the same.
Finally, Mark mentioned the matchmaking he would do for Helen within his network of 92,000 members.
Personal Introduction Criteria and Potential Contacts
Mark and Helen discussed the criteria and process for personal introductions, with Mark identifying potential contacts based on location, job title, and the type of organisation. Mark mentioned that he typically finds three individuals who meet these criteria and then facilitates a personal introduction. Helen, considering potential projects, expressed interest in connecting with festival directors or marketing and communications professionals at arts festivals in North America.
LinkedIn, Christmas Party, Publication, References
Mark reminded Helen about the LinkedIn groups and asked her to tag him if she introduces herself in those groups. He also informed her about an upcoming Christmas party event. Mark asked Helen for any additional photos, case studies, or links to Youtube videos that she would like him to include . Helen agreed to provide key references related to culture, shock, Commonwealth Games, and Manchester International Festival.
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