Recently I was asked by the Network to run a workshop as part of the Teacher Taster Sessions. My background and education is in Theatre and I was still filled with nerves as I planned and prepared myself for the session. Luckily, I had Lisa Sheppard’s guidance! She is specialised in Puppetry and was able to help me with planning a structure to my workshop, offering ideas of what to include and to offer words of encouragement. Having this support from Lisa and from others within the Artists in Learning Network has really boosted my confidence. I received feedback on my performance and different areas that need improvement, this has given me some specific targets and ideas to consider when planning my next workshop. By having a mentor within the Network it has given me a chance to ask those odd questions and to have a friendly face within the crowd of expectant participants within the session! Lisa was always just a quick email away and by having this safety net, I was able to tackle tasks outside of my comfort zone, that I usually wouldn’t without the guidance and support I have received from the Network.
When you face the void that is leaving University there is nothing more terrifying. However, for emerging Artists it is becoming increasingly apparent that the isolation of being an artist setting out into the big wide world is destroying our passion for our craft. As I prepared myself for my final year at Coventry University as a Theatre student, I realised that after three years of working closely with an amazing group of people, I was going to be alone and working Freelance. I was my own business, and my future was in my hands and I was about to embark on the monumental task of making my job as a Theatre Practitioner, pay the bills and to be a successful career. It is safe to say that I was petrified, and after three months of being unemployed and not getting anywhere I was at the end of my tether.
Then my mum told me about a tweet she saw from Artists in Learning and how they were looking for more members. I was intrigued, so I went along to a Network Tea to meet some of them. I left that Tea full of enthusiasm again and a spark was reignited. I was not alone in feeling the strain of trying to make a career out of the Arts, and through Arts in Education, I realised this was possible. Whilst at University you have a support network of friends, lecturers etc. This is replaced by the Artists in Learning Network. I was suddenly part of a group of amazingly talented people. We help each other, we promote each other, we advise each other and encourage each other to grow as Artists. Through Teacher Taster Sessions, Network Teas and various events, I was able to meet all sorts of Artists and those who needed my skills and were willing to pay for it too! As passionate as I am about the Theatre, I still need to pay my car insurance each month!
I was no longer a single business. I was a product of one big Network of businesses. I was receiving guidance and support as an emerging Artist and was meeting all sorts of people from different walks of life who are continuing to help me grow as an Artist. People always say that it isn’t what you know, it’s who you know, and it is through the Network that you get to meet these people!