As part of our 50th anniversary, we’ve been speaking to people who have memories of New Perspectives from years past both as audience members and as people who’ve worked with the company. If you have any memories, pictures or anecdotes you’d like to share with the team please email [email protected].

On Friday 24 May, Cathy Mahmood, who worked at New Perspectives from 2001-2007 in a range of roles including General Manager and Marketing and Development Manager, joined us at our Basford HQ for a cup of tea and a chat to reminisce about her time with the company.

When Cathy started at New Perspectives in 2001, the company was still based at the Old Library in Mansfield with Gavin Stride at the helm.

“I was 25 [when I started at New Perspectives],” Cathy said. “Moving up from Birmingham and I didn’t know anyone, so New Perspectives kind of just became my life. I actually lived in Nottingham but drove up to Mansfield and back, but I regularly just stayed in the evening. So, I’d do the day job and then stay for whatever we had in the evening.”

New Perspectives in 2001 was quite different from the New Perspectives of today. Being based at the Old Library meant that, in addition to producing theatre, New Perspectives also ran the arts centre and café.

“I’d look after the programme and manage the Arts Centre,” Cathy recounted as she pulled out pictures of an art exhibition launch. “We’d have different changing exhibitions from local artists.”

New Perspectives at this time also ran participation programmes focussed on creating opportunities for people to make their own art from Rufford Mill, Ollerton and The Abbey in Daventry.

Cathy noted that this passion for developing creativity within people was also reflected in the team itself. In a piece of old marketing material that Cathy brought with her it reads: “We want to sustain a company that is well managed, expansive and optimistic; one that takes risks and affords the space for all the people who work for and with us to be creative.”

“I loved the ethos and values of the company,” Cathy said. “They wanted everyone to be creative, in whatever role everyone had that opportunity in one way or another. And that’s stayed with me throughout my career.”

Cathy also brought with her pictures of a team picnic with the whole team sat around a table eating a feast of homebakes. 

Cathy said that New Perspectives was “an amazing place to work in [her] early career” and that she has very fond memories.

“During my time with New Perspectives I got married, had children, all of that sort of thing was going on for me so it’s just a really lovely time to look back on.”

One of the big changes that Cathy experienced at the company was the change of Artistic Director in 2003 when Daniel Buckroyd came onboard and then the subsequent move from Mansfield to our current office in Basford. 

A change of leadership and vision for the company meant letting go of some aspects of New Perspectives' participatory programme. “Daniel was really focussed on the theatre side and less on the participatory arts/outreach side which was hard as that was where my heart was.”

Because of the move from Mansfield to Basford, the New Perspectives team eventually stopped running the participatory arts programmes in Newark and Sherwood and Daventry, though continued to run Northants Touring Arts. As well as touring to rural audiences and village halls, the company took Not Now Bernard, a play for family audiences, to the Edinburgh Festival and booked tours to mid-scale venues.

“The tours were pretty extensive,” Cathy said. “I really admired the actors and the stage managers just because I think it’s such hard work to do that every night in a different place.”

Cathy maintains that New Perspectives was a wonderful place to be early on in her career and that what she learnt still stays with her to this day: “We were working at a time when there was a proper arts service for the County Council and it was a whole different landscape. A lot has changed then since then but Gavin's advice (and company ethos) to take risks and make things happen has really stayed with me.”