News | Tuesday, 24th July 2018
Arts fundraiser and champion of Manchester International Festival receives honorary degree
Joyce Hytner OBE was awarded a Doctor of Arts for her contribution to the cultural sector
A leading arts fundraiser has been awarded an honorary degree by Manchester Metropolitan University for her contribution to the arts and culture sector and invaluable support of the Manchester International Festival.
Joyce Anita Hytner OBE is the founder and director of Act IV, an arts and charity fundraising consultancy which has supported a breadth of renowned cultural organisations over the last two decades.
She was also a board member of the Manchester International Festival until last year, has sat on the board of a number of theatres, including the Royal Exchange, Criterion, Royal Court and the Old Vic.
Hytner is passionate about the performing arts, and her extensive knowledge gained over 40 years in the industry has played a crucial role in raising the importance of the arts on the national stage. She was awarded an OBE for her services to the arts in 2004.
Hytner was presented with an honorary Doctor of Arts (DArt) degree at the graduation ceremony in Manchester’s atmospheric Bridgewater Hall on Tuesday (July 24).
'Power of saying yes'
The Manchester-born fundraiser described the award as “the power of saying ‘yes’ honour”, in tribute to her decision early in life to “say yes to every single opportunity that has ever come my way” after leaving school at 17 to get married.
“I think that you are so lucky to have had this amazing chance over the last few years of getting the education that I wilfully neglected,” she told graduates.
“But together with that you need to have the huge good fortune that I have had, but almost more importantly to grab at every single opportunity that comes your way and only under extreme duress say ‘no’.”
In an entertaining whistle-stop tour of her rich and varied career, Hytner explained that it all began with a chance meeting with a Granada TV employee at a party, who suggested she apply for a job there.
Until last year when I was on the board of the Manchester International Festival I’ve always had a reason to return, and now with my connection to this fantastic place I don’t ever have to leave properly.
“Bear in mind I was by this time in my mid-thirties and had never actually worked. So I said ‘what job?’, and he said ‘I don’t know – make it up!’ So off I went and I did make it up,” she said.
That led to organising literary lunches with stars of stage and screen, before she progressed to Head of Development at the Royal Court Theatre, a post she held for five years until she reached retirement age.
“Everyone in my family thought that was a very good thing, but I had other ideas,” she explained.
She established Arts IV in 1998, providing fundraising support for arts organisations, including those with a strong focus on widening participation, and stewarding sites of artistic heritage to ensure that the arts continue to play a prominent role in society for the next generation.
Putting something back
“It’s called a ‘putting something back’ business, but at the same time keeping a senior citizen out of mischief”, she said.
Hytner also paid tribute to Manchester Metropolitan University and to the city where she was born, started a family and worked before moving to London.
“I’ve never really left though, as until last year when I was on the board of the Manchester International Festival I’ve always had a reason to return, and now with my connection to this fantastic place I don’t ever have to leave properly.”
Dr Rachel Dickinson, Principal Lecturer at Manchester Metropolitan University, presented Hytner to receive the honorary degree.
She said: “With a wit and a warm smile that could light up a room, Joyce is the kind of charismatic person who naturally draws people to her, that connects them with each other, helping individuals, charities and businesses creatively to recognise their potential and build mutually beneficial relationships.
“Through her significant contribution to the arts and culture community, from the global to the local, and her invaluable support of the Manchester International Festival, she presents a worthy role model for Manchester Metropolitan University's students and staff.”