Reflections on the This Is It! event in Bristol

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As you may know Theatre Bristol is part of a consortium which has secured Creative Employment Programme Funding. The funding is to provide a 6 month paid internship for young people between the ages of 18 & 24 looking to work in the Creative Industries.

The Bristol Consortium is hosted by the West of England Creative Skills hub, who’s aim is to ensure that skills and training in the West of England meets the needs of a growing creative sector. The Creative Industries are recognised as a priority growth sector in the vision for the West of England Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), and particularly vital to the development of the Enterprise Zone in Bristol Temple Quarter.

In early March the current TB intern Lucy Ahmed and Sarah Kingswell (General Manager) were invited to a conference called THIS IS IT! organised by The Creative Society. THIS IS IT! is a series of regional events which bring together Creative Employment Programme interns & apprentices, employers and businesses from the creative sector to develop the future creative workforce. The conferences are designed to help CEP participants make the most of their placement, and inspire them in their future careers.

Below Lucy reflects on the day:   

This Is It!                                                                                             No Description
Inspiring, confusing, daunting and inspiring again! I hate the term Networking, detest the whole concept of it, but I know if I want to get on in the creative sector I have to embrace it. It turns out professionals and other newbies like myself don’t particularly like it either. However, This Is It was a great event to meet new people in different creative industry sectors without feeling like you were being forced into it. The environment was relaxing, fun and refreshing from previous events I have attended.
I already have an idea about what direction I want to take after my internship with Theatre Bristol ends, but I can see why this event would have given some of the other young people who are unsure of what they want to do, the encouragement to chase their dreams, even if it’s going to take a lot of hard work, and you will have very little money in your pocket when you start out. Most of the speakers had very sympathetic, human stories about how they got into the industry, everything from pretending to be a talent scout from a record label, to working night shifts so they could write in the day for free. It all sounds too familiar to so many people I know who are looking to get into different creative jobs. I did an English Literature with Media Studies degree; this was a combined degree with a Creative Writing course, so I have many friends who are doing what I am doing. Working full or part time jobs as well as doing creative work for free, from photography, directing, writing to even pod-casting and radio shows. It was good to hear such honest accounts about how they started. Gives me hope that at least some of the hard-working people I know personally or met yesterday will get somewhere in this sector.
Having Anastatsia Emmanuel there from indiegogo was fantastic, I personally found the advice about crowd funding invaluable, I had already thought about this as an option to help with funding costs for the Theatre Company I have set up, but I wasn’t aware of things like indiegogo offering a flexible scheme for collecting money, unlike kickstarter. Things like that are great for creative businesses and projects, because every little helps as they say.
The afternoon was also filled with more inspirational speeches and talks, but also a small brief to get us working in groups to come up with a platform to showcase talent across the South West. I thought maybe the brief was too broad, we spent ages trying to pin down what it was they actually wanted from us. On the other hand, I understand that was so we could be innovative and think outside the box. It either needed to be very slightly narrowed down though, or we needed a bit more time to do the task, even an extra 10-15 minutes would have been enough.
The day was interesting and well-structured mostly, though there were a few things I felt that could have been improved on. However that might be because I’m slightly older and a lot of the things talked about earlier in the day where things I have researched for myself or asked other people about. More tips about how to manage jobs and balancing that with your creative practice outside of those jobs you are having to take outside of the industry, might have been a good extra thing to have had. We were told a lot that you should be doing your creative practice whenever you can and more so, but that’s hard if you don’t always know your hours in advance, because the rota hasn’t been done yet etc. Just some more advice on this kind of thinking, might have encouraged more of the people there to think about how to get their creative practice working well alongside other commitments you might have earlier on in your career, such as another job.
Some of the speakers that stood out for me as motivational and engaging were, Carolyn Hassan from The Knowle West Media Centre, Jonny Mundey and his crowd funding project to get free education in the Humanities out to the people who can’t afford it otherwise and the playwright and poet Sabrina Mahfouz she had seen it all and she made me believe that no matter what your background you can make it in the theatre and performance industry.

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