2018 provided brilliant opportunities to develop new skills and make new contacts across different arts sectors and within different areas of the county.
Producing / Programme Management
In my contract with Awards for Young Musicians (AYM), I got the exciting opportunity to co-commission five films, working with 16 music teachers and with five filmmakers in different areas of the country, to be used as an educational training resource for music leaders. I learnt that music licensing can be an absolute nightmare and that editing can a very lengthy process but also how much I thrive when collaborating creatively with others as a producer. I feel immensely proud of the journey each artistic team went on and the results that were produced. I was also able to draw on my PGCE to co-devise an exciting new CPD course that is currently being delivered across the country.
I finished my contract with AYM a little earlier than expected, at the end of June, as they were successful in securing funding for a full-time position which I didn’t feel able to commit to. However, I joined them as they celebrated their 20th anniversary in October and remain engaged with all their wonderful work.
I continued to work as Associate for Arts Connect, delivering development days and supporting schools to demonstrate their commitment to arts and culture by gaining Artsmark. I really enjoy leading this training where I get to facilitate interesting discussion between senior leaders and teachers and hear how passionately and tirelessly some of the education sector work to keep arts alive in schools. Hooray for them!
Mentoring and facilitation
I continued to deliver mentoring sessions and facilitate visioning days for companies across the Midlands and maintained my relationship with Birmingham Dance Network, Shropshire Inclusive Dance, Bostin Creative, Here We Are and Dash.
Just before the summer, Dash asked me to deliver an accessible evaluation day to wrap up their Cultivate project, a mentoring programme for disabled visual artists. It was a fascinating challenge to devise tasks that successfully engaged people with different disabilities, interests and needs but I enjoyed the creative challenge and got some lovely feedback. Should they be successful in fundraising Dash have asked me to lead a training programme for mentors as an extension to Cultivate which I am excited about, so please keep your fingers crossed or donate to their cause!
I am passionate about coaching and the positive impact it can have and worked hard to expand the proportion of my work which focused on this during 2018.
I regularly delivered sessions for those working in the arts and in order to further develop my skills and the breadth and range of both clients and issues that I worked with I began to coach on a voluntary basis with the Shaw Trust in Birmingham. This works with people who are in long term unemployment for a variety of reasons.
In addition to my voluntary work with the Shaw Trust, I continued in my role as Vice Chair for People Dancing. I have been a board member with them for a substantial amount of time now and am due to end my service with them in 2019. They are a brilliant organisation to get involved with and may be looking for new trustees in the future – do keep a look out if you’re interested.
I have loved the variety of my work and the flexibility that being freelance can provide. 2019 is set to provide even more variety as I’m expecting a baby in February. Even more adventure lies ahead!
2017 was a brilliant and busy year.
I completed my year-long contract as Executive Producer for Anjali Dance Company, which celebrates the unique creative abilities and artistic potential of people with learning disabilities. During this contract I helped them to develop good governance, think about the future and create strategic plans. This helped to prepare them for a successful national tour of Genius.
I also began a two-year contract with Awards for Young Musicians as Programme Manager for Furthering Talent and Practical Progression. Furthering Talent provides instrumental tuition and other musical progression support to works with children from low income families who have been identified as having musical potential. Practical Progression develops training resources to share the key principles of Furthering Talent with other providers. This was an interesting development for me as it was the first time I’d worked on a project exclusively focused on music and the first time I’d worked in some of the locations – the programme partners Music Education Hubs in Brighton and Hove, Greater Manchester, Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent, Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire. It gave me confidence in how transferrable my skills were.
Alongside the two longer term contracts I:
- Facilitated away-day sessions and meetings for Birmingham Dance Network to help them develop their business plan
- Facilitated away-day / visioning sessions for a variety of midlands-based dance companies, including Shropshire Inclusive Dance, Infuse Dance and Restoke
- Became Vice Chair for of People Dancing, the Foundation for Community Dance, working on a voluntary basis
- Worked as a mentor on Dash’s Cultivate programme, a mentoring programme for Disabled Visual Artists.
- Continued to work as Arts Connect Associate (Artsmark), delivering development days for schools wanting to demonstrate their commitment to arts provision through the award
- Provided coaching sessions to artists, managers and producers
- Continued to administrate AMP (Independent Arts Managers and Producers) Network which I co-founded with Jenny Smith on a voluntary basis. This now has 280 members (self-defined Managers and Producers) on Facebook
There was a lot of juggling involved but I loved the variety of this work, visiting new places and making new work-related contacts.
2016 was a fantastic year.
In March I completed my work with FRONTLINEdance, an integrated dance company based in Stoke-on-Trent, creating an Organisational Development Plan, a spreadsheet of relevant trusts and foundations and a list of contacts related to one of their programmes of work. It was a really interesting contract, resourced by the company’s successful application to Arts Council England’s Grants for the Arts programme (the main strand of which was for the production and tour of Happenchance and Forget me Knot in hospital settings).
At the end of March I began a year-long contract (1 day a week) working with Anjali Dance Company in Banbury. This company celebrates the unique creative abilities and artistic potential of people with learning disabilities and demonstrates exciting new possibilities in dance. I worked as Executive Producer, helping them to develop their future thinking and strategic plans as well as diversify their income as they work towards an exciting national tour, called Genius. It was a challenge but a great learning experience too!
In addition to the above I:
- undertook some short courses and had some mentoring with different arts leaders, kindly resourced though my successful application to Arts Council England’s Grants for the Arts Programme
- continued in my role as Arts Connect Associate (Artsmark), delivering development days for schools wanting to demonstrate their commitment to arts provision through the award
- started to deliver my Focus: Peer Support Programme, based on Action Learning, with a small group of artists and arts managers in the West Midlands.
- coached 13 people (artists, managers and producers) for up to 3 sessions each
- Mentored Flexus Dance Company (organisational development)
- Mentored one of the founding artists of Birmingham Dance Network (professional development)
- continued to coordinate and Chair AMP (Independent Arts Managers and Producers) Network which I co-founded with Jenny Smith on a voluntary basis.
I really enjoyed the above experiences in facilitation and am keen to do more!
I also remained on the board of People Dancing, the Foundation for Community Dance being pleased to be associated with, and able to support, their excellent work.
All of the above work allowed me to expand and develop the skills that I gained during the contracts I worked on in 2015 (Birmingham Royal Ballet, Dance Woking, FRONTLINEdance) and through my previous employment – see past projects page.
I really enjoyed the variety of my work in 2015, which ranged from a focus on facilitation to the creation of strategic documents. For example, in early September 2015 I was invited to facilitate a Strategy Day with Dance Woking’s board and staff and in the first half of the year I was asked to work on Birmingham Dance Hub, an Arts Council England driven initiative, by Christopher Barron the then Chief Executive of Birmingham Royal Ballet, which resulted in a position statement of dance in the West Midlands, a spreadsheet of contacts, recommendations and analysis of an online survey (in May 2015).
In addition to the above I provided advice and assistance to 2 producers, 3 artists and one artists network, all of whom were seeking support with income generation and business development. I also developed my own projects, including one to support independent project managers, artists and graduates in the West Midlands, and undertook some professional development and mentoring too, thanks to a grant from Arts Council England. As part of this, I completed a course on Action Learning Facilitation and co-facilitated my first set with colleagues from the arts, museums and third sectors. I also gained a distinction as a Relational Dynamics Coach and built up my experience through the provision of free and subsidised coaching sessions in return for feedback.
I worked with FRONTLINEdance, providing organisational development support, and was successful in becoming one of the Arts Connect Associates, working to encourage schools and other education settings to apply for Artsmark.
I also continued to support People Dancing, the Foundation for Community Dance through my role as a board member.
In the role of Dance Development Director at DanceXchange, where I worked from 2001 until 2014, I initiated and developed many strategic programmes and projects focusing on access and inclusion, professional development and growing the dance infrastructure. Examples of these include:
DAiR To… a partnership with Dudley Community Dance Consortium (now Dudley Performing Arts), Solihull Arts Complex, Stoke-on-Trent Theatres and BORDERDance in Shropshire (no longer in existence), which saw 5 artists appointed to work with disadvantaged young people.
The Dance Advance Programme – a partnership with Coventry University and University of Wolverhampton to provide opportunities to their most talented dance students to improve their dance technique and performance skills.
The Centre for Advanced Training for South Asian and Contemporary Dance (CAT) – a partnership between DanceXchange and sampad South Asian Arts, funded by the DFE Music and Dance Scheme, to provide a training programme for young people aged 11-16 who demonstrate exceptional talent and potential in dance. This offers two strands; one focusing on Contemporary dance which draws students from across the West Midlands; one focusing on the South Asian dance styles of Kathak and Bharatanatyam which draws students from across the country.
The Outdoor Dance Programme, a partnership between DanceXchange, DanceFest, Dudley Performing Arts, Dancescape (no longer in existence) and Telford Culture Zone, which resulted in Spill (a location specific performance for children playgrounds) and Breathe the Beat (a digital and live hip hop project).
In my role at Swindon Dance, I developed a schools dance platform, lead Just for Kicks youth dance groups and helped with The Main Ingredient, an outdoor hip hop event.
In my work for Bucks Dance I project managed Crossing Borders, the opening of the Milton Keynes Theatres, with Motionhouse Dance Theatre, the Milton Keynes City Orchestra and 75 community dancers.