“Rule Number 1. Don’t ever apologise for something you’re passionate about”. This was overheard at the first THIS IS IT! Alumni Network event held at Battersea Arts Centre on Tuesday 29 July. Interns and apprentices from a variety of arts and culture organisations taking part in the Creative Employment Programme got together to share experiences and ideas, and to discuss professional interests they would like to pursue beyond their current placement. Desara Bosnja, Apprentice Producer at the Bush Theatre organized and facilitated the session, and asked her peers to share their passions and interests.
Do we know what we want to do?
Participants explained their current roles and responsibilities and how their experience is helping them define what they are good at, what they enjoy the most and how they’d like to take their careers forward.
Ladi Oshunniyi from Sound and Music told us about his time in the Programming team and Comms department, and how he found his experience in sales valuable and now would like to explore similar roles within the field of literature.
Sam Barker, from Shakespeare’s Schools Festival started his internship in early June and since then, has had a chance to “do a bit of everything”, which has allowed him to get an insight into work with children and how they engage with theatre.
All the participants, aged 16-25 agreed that swapping roles and doing a bit of everything was a valuable experience, as it allows them to get an overview of how the industry works and the opportunities that are available to them.
But what do they want to do with their current skills and experience beyond their internship and apprenticeship?
What are we passionate about?
Their passion to engage young people like themselves in the arts and the importance of fair pay within the industry dominated the discussion.
All of them admitted to having volunteered or worked for free in an industry that generates £9 billion pounds towards the UK’s economy. For them, it is clear that the time has come for the Government to wake up and realize the contribution that artists and creatives make, and for the arts to be valued as highly as education and health by the nation.
The subject of money and funding cuts inevitably came up. Sarah Chapman, apprentice at the Unicorn Theatre cited the Royal Court as an example of a theatre with enough resources to take risks, and how this has enabled them to produce great work “that sells tickets”. She is looking forward to seeing how the Unicorn grows in the next period with an increase in their funding in the latest NPO round. The Royal Court is also a Creative Employment Programme, a scheme that promotes Fair Access, the principle that arts and culture organisations around the country are signing to democratize entry into the creative industries.
And in a world where theatres have to tick boxes but also sell tickets, how do artists increase young people’s participation when even at £10 a ticket young people don’t come back? “Teenagers spend their life inside their house, online”, and this group of young professionals are determined to reach out to them.
How do we use our skills?
Write a novel, produce TV and film, campaign for the arts, work with ex-offenders, explore food as a creative endeavor… these are some of the ideas that the group want to explore in the next few months. These young professionals know what they want to do, and they are looking for support and resources to turn these ideas into reality.
And what better way to put their skills and experience to good use than to begin a chain of favours with their own peers? At the end of the session each participant set themselves a task to introduce someone else in the group to one of their contacts, or share information about projects and opportunities that will help them further their careers. Desara will introduce Eloise, apprentice at the Gate Theatre to her contacts at Clean Break and in turn, Eloise will share with Ladi information about the Lyric Hammersmith’s Young Company.
Every month we will be gathering at a different Creative Employment Programme venue in London to develop these initial ideas and come up with a project that will be led by the participants themselves with the support of The Creative Society. We will be inviting professionals to lead hour longs sessions to develop professional skills that come up during the session. Next month we will look into successful networking, public speaking, CV writing or using social media effectively.
But the overall objective is to put young professionals’ skills into practice and work towards a common goal-turned into project. Could it be a campaign led by young people to promote Fair Access amongst art organisations? An outreach theatre company producing teenage-targeted shows that merge traditional art forms with online technology and networks? We will see, for now we are welcoming all interns and apprentices in London to join us on Tuesday 26 August from 6pm-8pm
What would you like to discuss at the next session? Do you have a project or idea in mind you would like to present to the alumni group? Send firstname.lastname@example.org an email with your request or post your idea on the Creative Employment Programme interns, apprentices and trainees group on Facebook.
Hope to see you in August!
List of organistions, projects and opportunities mentioned at the session:
Do you want to add your voice to the Guardian’s culture coverage? The Guardian is looking for bloggers, vloggers, writers, artists musicians from around the world to talk about culture
Introduction to Facilitation Course at the Almeida Theatre Do you want to learn how to facilitate workshops with young people?
Fair pay and funding
Fair Access is a campaign to improve recruitment practices in the creative industries. We are tackling the issue of unpaid internships which act as a huge barrier to many young people wishing to pursue creative careers.
In Battalions is a report into the effect of Arts Council cuts on theatre’s capacity to develop new plays and playwrights, written by Fin Kennedy.
Artists and companies
Clean Break, bringing the hidden stories of imprisoned women to a wider audience
Wall to Wall Productions company which supplies TV broadcasters around the world with programmes on science, history, factual entertainment and drama.
Bompass and Parr creates fine English jellies and curates spectacular culinary events.