Some may argue that technically this isn’t my first paid job. I would argue that this is the first step into my career. A career nested snugly within the arts and education sector. After an agonisingly long three years on my undergraduate degree, I crawled into the tight confines of my first teaching job. I was miserable, it resulted in me leaving my first school. With nowhere else to go, I decided to pursue supply work. The work paid well and I didn’t have the daily stresses faced by a normal class teacher but I wasn’t entirely happy. This wasn’t where I wanted to be, I didn’t want this to be my contribution to the world, this was not going to be my legacy…so I left.
September was looming, I was unemployed, due to start a Master’s degree in a few months, but had no money coming in until then. I spent my mornings guiltily avoiding phone calls from teaching agencies with more than enough work to sort my money issues, but the fear of going back had me spending my afternoons frantically searching for any other opportunities.
In what felt like a maze crawling with anxiety and fear, I found the way out. In October 2016 I began my creative internship here at Work in Progress. I was appointed their new creative producer and waved goodbye to a job that made me so unhappy.
Monday’s were no longer such a depressing part of my week. Entering the Library of Birmingham always made me smile, the cheery yellow warmed the walls of the cosy Children’s library on the lower ground level. I loved working in the Middle Earth room, although it may not resemble the vast medieval landscape described in Tolkien’s novels, it homed many adventures of its own.
Every Monday following our team meeting was our My Style Arts Award Club, at 4:45pm the little room would begin to fill with young people from completely different parts of the City. Some were home schooled, some were new to this country, some struggled to make friends at school, but here we all had something in common…WiP!
WiP has not only been a safe place for me, but for all the young people who engage with their activities. WiP is open and accessible, pretty much every event ever held and opportunity ever offered is free and in some cases they pay you to take part!
My Style sessions are freaking awesome! With guest artists, speakers, mentors and supporting friends; every session is different, fun, engaging and useful. The young people learn new skills, develop their talent and improve their leadership and confidence. I gained the opportunity to not only be the lead deliverer at the Birmingham My Style club, but also the Arts Award club we have in Kidderminster.
I must admit that getting up early on a Saturday morning is not my favourite thing to do in the world, however getting to imagine, play, improvise and laugh was! Every Saturday at the Museum of Carpet in Kidderminster was an adventure! From grumpy sleeping dragons to evil skeleton worms up in space, it’s hard to imagine how we ever got any learning about Kidderminster Carpet done.
My time here at WiP has truly been a great journey. Since October, I have planned and led 3 takeover events with the support of an amazing team, led 2 weekly Arts Award clubs (in Birmingham and Kidderminster) and also found time to develop my own talent.
As well as gaining the incredible opportunity of leading both My Style sessions for WiP during my internship, I also lead creative workshops around the theme ‘belonging’ in care homes around the city. Having the chance to work with and in children’s care homes was a great honour, these young people not only contributed to exploring why ‘belonging’ is such an important theme for a young person, but also made Thursday evenings a whole new adventure. There was improvisation and role play, painting, drawing, character development and exploration and interesting and thought provoking conversations.
Staying on the theme of ‘belonging’, this month our play of ‘Belonging’ went back into development and within 2 weeks we somehow pulled together a short sharing for the First Bites Festival, hosted by the Attenborough Arts Centre, Leicester and produced by the China Plate Theatre Company. With only four 2 hour long rehearsals, our amazing team of actors presented a powerful piece questioning the justice of our current refugee crises; drawing attention to the self-destruction polluting the world, in an abstract and subtle way.
To conclude, all of the above experiences also helped me gain my Gold Arts Award! Accreditation, a monthly wage, many development opportunities (such as Arts Award Advisor training) and numerous wonderful memories…WiP you really have spoiled me.
Until we meet again WiPsters (because they can never truly get rid of me).