Charlotte Ryan is working to ensure Bromley is firmly on the map for its great taste in music, art, theatre, sport and libraries and more! Here we spoke to her about her Cultural highlights from 2022 so far with a look ahead at what’s to come.
Words by Imogen Smith
Bromley is a borough teeming with culture. It has theatres, cinemas, museums, art galleries, football clubs and libraries. Not to mention a wealth of fantastic restaurants, sports facilities and public spaces all waiting for spectators, gourmands and passers-by to engage with, savour and enjoy.
Bromley Council have introduced a new Culture and Events Officer role to further develop the Council’s support of Bromley’s great cultural activities and strengthen connections with cultural groups and organisations in the borough. Charlotte Ryan is the first to occupy this role within the Council’s Culture team, which is working to ensure Bromley is firmly on the map for its great taste in music, art, theatre, sport and libraries and more! Here we spoke to her about her Cultural highlights from 2022 so far with a look ahead at what’s to come.
Could you briefly explain how you came to this role?
I worked in primary school education for thirteen years, up until the start of the pandemic. I then joined the council in March 2020 as part of the Regeneration team. I moved over to the Culture team when it expanded in October 2021 and from there I was promoted to the Culture & Events Officer, which is where I am today.
What does a typical day look like for you?
No two days are the same, which is part of the reason why I love my job! A typical day involves anything from organising meetings, negotiating cultural enquiries, relationship building and project planning, but my role mainly consists of working with cultural organisation to better coordinate the fantastic events across the borough and help remind residents just how much the council cares about culture.
What’s been your most memorable work moment to date?
Being part of a new team and working to reignite Bromley for its residents, particularly post pandemic. Although there are so many negatives to Covid-19, what we’ve seen coming out the other side with a focus on community, events and bringing people back together, I think can only be a positive.
I think there’s quite an out-of-date impression of the word ‘culture’ that people have, whereas we want to use it to include any event, any social space, any sport, any leisure activity and music, to make it more inclusive, more encompassing and to give it a wider meaning.
We’re not here to tell anybody what culture means because it’s personal to everybody but we’re trying to make sure that anything we do organise is in people’s wider interests so we’re not tunnel visioning the offer.
Lots of people we’ve spoken to since our team was created have been really receptive to what we’re trying to do and are keen to form partnerships with the council, which is really encouraging.
What’s the worst part of your job?
Simply put, I just need more hours in the day!
We’re a small but ambitious and busy team and we have a lot of ground to cover working in the biggest Borough, while establishing partnerships and looking to do as much as possible to support culture in Bromley. Often, I’ll get to the end of the working day and still be whirring with new ideas!
And the best part?
My team and building relationships with local stakeholders and organisations with the aim to improve the cultural offering in the borough. We’re reaching out to people the council have existing relationships with but we’re really keen to make new partnerships and embed the culture team within the council and borough.
We’ve also created a brand called Inspire Bromley, which was named by the Cultural Grant recipients who put the idea in motion in order to promote Cultural programming and events in the borough. #InspireBromley was created to encourage and connect grassroots cultural projects across the borough and help improve residents’ awareness of them and enhance relationships between organisations and the Council.
Looking ahead to the New Year, what other events and cultural moments are you looking forward to?
There’s a lot in the pipeline and we’re working hard to put plans in place so 2023 is filled with different cultural events across the borough. In the near future, we have celebrations for The Coronation of His Majesty The King in our sights as well as working with our partners on various other cultural calendar events.
What have been some of your culture/event highlights in Bromley this year?
The Jubilee weekend really sticks out as a highlight. The Council hosted a wide range of celebrations throughout the borough during the Jubilee weekend which were attended by thousands of people including the Beacon Lighting at Crystal Palace Park, a Uniformed Youth Group parade in Bromley High Street, many street parties (which gained national media attention) as well as three days of events in Queens Gardens which I was involved with from start to finish and was on the ground over the three days. There was a wonderful atmosphere at the events – especially when the Mayor arrived and joined in with the fun in the Gardens!
It’s also what kick-started the creation of my role because we saw what a success it was and how much potential more cultural events could have for the Bromley.
Charlotte’s cultural highlights:
Favourite show: I love musicals! I love anything from Les Mis and Phantom of the Opera to Jersey Boys and Everybody’s Talking About Jamie!
Favourite book: The Alchemist
Favourite way to spend an evening: A pub quiz with friends