Curling with coins, and other activities

In my last blog I wittered on about the launch of this year’s Weston Jerwood Creative Bursary scheme. As part of the first training day we met some lovely folk from the British Council and got more information on the international opportunities available to us. A good deal of the weeks following that has been me, a little ball of stress, trying to figure out which placements to apply for and what to even write. Turns out my chronic indecision and inability to sell myself (metaphorically, never tried literally) haven’t improved on this placement. I eventually chose to apply to two placements in Montenegro and one in Rome. I’ve never worked abroad before so if I do succeed I might just burst with excitement. I’ve been telling myself I’m not going to get any of the placements though. That way I’m either right or pleasantly surprised – the optimistic brand of pessimism. My application was a bit of a struggle too. I figured a short word limit would make the applications a fairly speedy task. Oh, how wrong I was. Turns out I’m nigh on incapable of brevity so it ended up taking bloody ages. So much editing. It was a character limit rather than word count so I ended up thesaurus-ing all my longer words. Slightly concerned it’ll read like a five year old wrote it, but it’s happened now! No use crying over spilt milk and all that.

I can’t be too sad if I don’t get an international placement as I’ll get to share in the experience through the cohort, the beauty of us all supporting and assisting each other over this year. And also because we already have a wee trip to Avignon Festival lined up! It’s the South of France, in summer, surrounded by loads of cool arts events. Not too shabby at all. Avignon also does quite a cool thing of mainly offering jobs to those living locally (you have to collect the application form in person). The festival attracts international audiences and shows so this doesn’t make the festival insular or anything like that. Having seen the impact of the Fringe on those who live in Edinburgh, I can’t help but think it might be a decent idea for some of the bigger UK festivals to put schemes into place to attract more local workers. Events that aren’t part of the year round landscape of an environment need to make sure they’re engaging with those that are. I know quite a lot of Edinburgh residents who feel completely disconnected from the Fringe. It was something that came and took over their town, not something for them. To me, this issue seems to be tied into the idea of arts jobs not paying proper wages. Particularly seeing as many venues offer accommodation in lieu of better pay (with no extra wages if you don’t need housing).  If you live in Edinburgh, why would you get an unpaid summer job in the Fringe venues, when you could work in the many bars/restaurants/shops that need more staff for August? Working for free would mean not making rent, so I always ended up in bar jobs rather than anything more directly arts related. It’s a shame as I could have had so many great training opportunities if they’d paid even slightly more. Working bars in the venues gets you some arts adjacent experience and transferable skills, but not all arts venues are going to be willing to employ someone on the basis of that (yet another reason I’m super glad the WJCB exists). I’ve always found it odd that staff in the same venues can be getting paid completely different amounts too. In venues I worked in, bar staff could be making at least minimum wage plus tips and free taxis home post shift. Front of house, box office, and technical staff were essentially volunteering with no perks except entry into shows they didn’t have time to see. Grim.

That went on quite the tangent! So, back to what I’ve been up to.

This week I had my ‘TRP Experience Day’, which was an official induction to the company. It happened quite a while after I’ve started, they have to wait for enough newbies to arrive to make having a whole day worth it. It was interesting to learn more about some of the departments I don’t get to interact with as much. We also played some team building games that weren’t awful! It was my first experience of a corporate-y event that was actually fun. Top game = one that involved sliding 2p coins down a table to get closest to a 5p. Basically curling on a much smaller scale (I think, not 100% sure what curling entails).

Run-down of other cool stuff I’ve done: I’ve been continuing with the archive work, unearthing some cool scripts and seeing more of TRP’s history. Also seen some truly horrible poster images, marketing has come a long way in the past few years! I’ve done some email networking, essentially pestering very experienced people and asking them to teach me their ways. It’s been successful so far! Turns out most folk in the arts are pretty lovely and willing to help out. I had a chat with our artistic associate to learn more about how programming for the Drum theatre works. I also got some advice and tips on what theatres I need to visit/what companies I should look out for. Project ‘Educating Lauren’ is in full swing. Finally, I got to see a run through of our latest production 49 Donkeys Hanged. It’s going to be a promenade piece with live music, it’s looking incredibly cool so far. We put together an audience which is unorthodox given that it’s not production week or time for the dress rehearsal. It was decided that given the unusual staging it would be worthwhile to have the cast get used to performing with audiences all up in their grill. It’s looking incredible so far, so if you’re in Plymouth March 22nd – 7th April come and see it!

This isn’t the only work I’ve been doing for the last two weeks, I just figured no one wants to read a list of my various administrative tasks. I am working hard, I promise!

Goals for the next two weeks: My aim for the next two weeks is to finish at least two of my ongoing projects, such as the archiving. I’d also like to try and be more sure of myself and go with my gut more often. That goal is quite closely related to my ‘networking’ this week. It’s been taking me half an hour or so to draft a three line email, panicking about how I’m coming off. And every time I’ve ended up going with what I wrote initially and it’s been successful. I need to worry less basically!

My goals in my previous blogs were to be more confident, be more efficient, keep this blog updated and get better at time management. Keeping the blog updated has gone well!* Confidence and efficiency are still works in progress. They’re big goals so they’ll probably take longer. Hopefully if I start being more assertive and stop wasting ages drafting emails the efficiency will improve too!

* It didn’t end up going that well actually. I wrote it on time! I just struggled to get around to editing it and actually posting,  still need to up my game a bit on this.

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