Poppy Spowage – A Volunteer Extraordinaire


Poppy has worked in performance, drama, ad arts events in a number of places around the world. She currently works as a freelance producer in Uganda – East Africa – where she’s involved in a range of arts projects, as well as writing her PhD.

To read about Poppy’s time studying her PhD at Royal Holloway University, click here.

Whenever I catch up with Poppy, I am always staggered by the quantity and quality of what she has done since the last time I saw her. Today’s interview with her was no exception to this. What hasn’t changed is her enthusiasm and energy which, even via a video call, seeped through my screen into my office. I asked her to start by telling me about her current situation.

Current Situation

“I am a creative producer. I’m currently based in Uganda and produce a range of creative arts events, festivals and residency projects. I work with a community of artists from across the region and beyond, with lots of different organisations and inspiring people. My main role within a lot of my work is making things happen: finding a story, managing the relationships around it, and bringing people together. I work with artists, audiences, funders, stakeholders and technicians: bringing a project to life, crafting it conceptually and practically. And alongside that I’m also doing my PhD, which I am now in my final year of.”

To read about Poppy’s time studying at Queen Mary, click here.


“I went to Colchester Sixth Form college where I studied Art, Drama, History, and English Literature. i had the chance to go to the local Grammar school, but I specifically chose to go to the Sixth Form college because of the creative subjects that were on offer there, and other people encouraged me to follow that route. I knew I wanted to study English and Theatre, and I had some great teachers in the sixth form who said that Queen Mary, University of London, was a great place to study these subjects.”

A Masters and Volunteering Work

“When I finished my English and Theatre degree I still had a lot of things I wanted to say. Things that I wanted to think about. So, I applied for a masters at Queen Mary University of London. I wasn’t sure if I would go at that stage or was ready for another year of study; I spent a four-month period at the end of my degree trying to get work, doing some teaching and volunteering while I considered my options.

There was an organisation called the People’s Palace Projects (PPP) who were an arts organisation and research institute. I became known there as the girl in the red boots who used to come and bang on the door, repeatedly asking what was going on and trying to get involved. Towards the end of the summer, they were doing a big project at the South Bank Centre, they said they needed some volunteers and I just threw myself into it. I went ahead with the masters, but my voluntary work quickly saw me hired on a part-time basis. So, I worked part-time with PPP at the same time as going my masters. I found ways of using my work with PPP to enhance what I was studying.

On the day I left Queen Mary after finishing my Masters, I took a full-time contract at PPP, and I was there for four and a half years.”