Women In Business: Jo Beal

Members News

Photos courtesy of ottrworks.com

In celebration of Women in Business day, Desk Cowork brings you wonderful interviews with our creative souls that make up the Women of Desk Cowork.

All week (24th to 28th September) we have a free cowork week to encourage ladies and gentlemen to come and try coworking, and celebrate with us!


What is it that you do, Jo?

My name is Jo, and I don’t really have a business name – I’m a freelance arts manager and artist!

Fantastic. What is it you do as an arts manager?

Well, I’ve been working in community arts development for about 25 years, nearly 25 years. So, over that time I kind of built up a lot of skills across working with the public to enable arts participation, running events, programming artists, and working with artists and collaborating with them to make really exciting, inspirational things happen for the community. So now, as a freelancer, I work for arts organisations that do that type of thing and that want me to come in, and kind of project management or sometimes even be a creative producer on those things.

And what do you love most about your job?

What do I love most? Working with people to make really inspiring things happen, arts-based things happen, from start to finish, really. I just really like working with all sorts of different people.

Do you have a favourite inspirational quote?

No, I don’t really have a quote. I don’t do that type of thing. I mean, I read a lot and that type of thing. I read a lot and learn from others, but I suppose I’m more inspired by people and I’ve got a few role models that I kind of look to.

What are your plans and ambitions for 2019?

Well, I’m looking forward to continuing to work with an organisation that I’m working for called Kinetika. They’re an internationally-renowned company, and do really exciting outdoor arts projects. I’m going to be working with them on two new projects, working with landscape partnership schemes. I’m going to be working as a project manager and an artist, which is interesting and exciting because I studied arts.

I’ve got a degree in Public Art and I’m trying to develop, I’m trying to make time in my life to develop my own arts practise more so being able to work as an artist will be great next year. And then also, whilst I’m here and in Swindon, I’m going to be developing the arts work that I do here. So my art journaling workshops, but also my own drawing and textiles and that type of thing. And I’m getting my loft converted into a studio to enable that in January. I can’t wait!

And how do you achieve a work/life balance?

Well, that’s interesting. I’m really, really aware of that these days, as a freelancer it’s hard as well. But I’ve had times when I’ve just been totally consumed by work and supporting lots of other people to make art and be creative, but not really doing that myself. So now I work hard to make sure that I do make time to do some drawing, actually. That’s how I like to relax! I try and kind of structure my day so that I do stop, or get up earlier to make art.

What advice would you give to a young woman who wants to succeed in your business area?

Say “yes” to opportunities as and when they come along. Make contacts. Try and keep in touch with them. Be positive and willing. But kind of, actually, just sort of follow what you really want to do. It’s a bit of a cliché, but if you’re really motivated and excited about a particular area, just follow it.

Favourite breakfast food?

I love variety in my life, so at the moment it’s … That’s the hardest question. I’m picturing all my breakfasts. Well, going into winter it will be a banana and porridge, probably.

What do you want to be when you grow up?

An artist.

Tea or coffee?


Instagram or Facebook?


Apple or Microsoft?

I’m Microsoft. I wish I was Apple.

What time of day are you most productive?

Afternoon, evening.

How do you wind down from work?

Drawing. Talking to a few friends.

And finish the sentence, “Coworking is …”

Coworking is… Really helpful! Wait that’s boring… But coworking is kind of necessary as a freelancer!