Postgraduate Lives: Sophie Dixon, Msc student at Queen Margaret, Edinburgh

'I'm inspired by the community'
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The Independent Online

Sophie Dixon, 23, is doing an MSc in festival production and management at Queen Margaret University College, Edinburgh

Six years ago, I was on holiday with my family in Portugal, and my dad said, "Come on, we're going to see a bullfight, you'll love it". I thought, no, that's barbaric and horrible. But I went along and it was spectacular; it was a visceral, theatrical experience, and I loved it. So, when I did my undergraduate degree in drama at Hull University, I knew that I would write my dissertation on bullfights. Now, for my MSc dissertation, I'm looking at how bullfighting is important to cultural identity in Spain. In some places, such as Barcelona, it has gone out of fashion and the main bullring is no longer in use. I'm not bloodthirsty, but I still find bullfights incredible.

I had always thought that I would go into arts management because I'm a very meticulous person, I thrive on systems, and file everything, even shopping receipts. But I chose the MSc on a bit of a whim. I saw the prospectus and thought festival management was a niche area and would be quite specific. And I had just had quite a year of festivals - at Hull, I had been in a two-person show, and the play ended up going to the Edinburgh Fringe.

The MSc has turned out more generic than I thought it would be, and I'm in classes with people managing golf and country clubs. The most valuable part of the course has been my work placement at the Leith Festival, where I was events co-ordinator. It's a small community festival held in the old port town where Trainspotting was set, with 100 events and 50 venues.

I've really learnt from doing things practically, but I still find it difficult to get my head around managing people. The relationship between artist and manager can be antagonistic, and I still see myself on the other side of the fence, as the artist. I miss the theatre and the creativity.

After the course, I'll probably go back home to Halifax. I've been inspired by the idea of community and, because there are no festivals in Halifax, I want to go back and be involved somehow. It would be easy to go to London or another big city and get a middle management post like others on my course, but that doesn't appeal to me.

Before I began the MSc, I thought I would end up managing a festival or a gallery. But the course has confused me; it has made me look again at what I want to do. I've got a lot to learn and I'm not sure what I'll do next, but then I'm still young and, like other young people, I want to go out and change the world.

caitlind1@aol.com

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