Rebecca is 18 and is currently the Administration and Marketing Apprentice for Booster Cushion Theatre.
I first got involved at Harrow Arts Centre as I took classes in dance and pottery when I was younger. I liked the venue and the events it programmed, and that it offered lots of things to do, so in 2009 I took my work experience placement at the arts centre. I was mainly working in marketing and the box office, doing administration work. Kerry and the Box Office team were very welcoming. I learnt basic admin skills and I had something to show that I had real life experience. The best part was being busy and having different things to do every day. I like having varied days! At this time we were working on the A Night Less Ordinary scheme, where venues gave free tickets to under 25s, and this made me think about young people getting involved more in the arts.
Then in 2011 my friend performed at the re-launch of the 100% gigs, which offer young people performance opportunities. I heard that HAC were setting up a new group run by young people to programme and organise the gigs. I thought that was a great opportunity to gain more experience and make friends. We created an entire new brand and marketing plan for the gigs, and we put on 5 gigs in that first year. It was so cool to see young people actually having somewhere to go and to see an event that I organised happen and be successful. I have been a 100% Producer for two and a half years now and last year we ran 12 gigs as well as other special events. My favourites have been the themed gigs, like Halloween Oxjam, and my photo was in the local paper dressed as a zombie! We’ve met loads of interesting people, like staff from BBC Introducing, a producer at The Roundhouse and next we’re meeting a programmer at the Southbank Centre, who taught us a lot about their careers and gave us tips. It’s been interesting watching 100% develop; this year we’ve done events in the shopping centre and we had our own stage at Under One Sky, with about 75 young performers. It was a new challenge, it was a good day! I’ve learnt about marketing, contact management, event management, artist liaison and working as a team. I’ve learnt about engaging with young people who might not be my age, and how to get them involved when they might have different interests and skills.
I had just started college and I had some spare days so I volunteered to help in the office. At the beginning we did a lot of mail outs and general admin. During this time, we started working on a membership scheme based on the A Night Less Ordinary project I had worked on in my work experience. We called it ‘The Guestlist’ and the aim was to provide more opportunities for young people in the arts, involve more young people with the arts centre, and make links with other organisations. We did a lot of research and brainstorming. I found out a lot about the arts and it widened my knowledge. This research really helped when designing the administration system behind the scheme, because we had a smooth start even when our launch date got brought forward by a month and the system is now really easy to use. Members get discounts and offers, and everyone likes them! I got more confidence from advertising it at Fresher’s Fairs and events. We also create special events for our members, from our launch event to special workshops. I’ve gained experience of programming events around what people want to see and I have put on an exhibition for young people who might not get the opportunity to display their work. I’ve also made some films and discovered I like editing and directing. We have almost a thousand members and I am really proud of that. We made a group called the Creative Directors who run The Guestlist, which I’m still part of.
I’ve done the Bronze and Silver Arts Award here, which helped me decide on options for my future. I led an event management training workshop, curated an exhibition, learnt new craft skills, and developed my review skills seeing some interesting events. I was the first person to complete Silver at HAC. I don’t think I’d have the opportunity to do the Arts Award anywhere else in the area, and it encouraged me to do things I wouldn’t otherwise have done. The qualifications helped me in my interviews.
I’ve also got involved in loads of other things; the most memorable is the community pantomime where I helped backstage and in making the set.
There’s a lot to do at HAC and I like being busy all the time. It’s fun and I’ve made a lot of new friends. I already enjoyed the arts but I don’t want to perform, ever, so it’s great being able to be involved in a way that I’m good at! I am more confident in what I do and now I help newer people joining our projects get where they want to go, which I enjoy doing, helping someone achieve their aims also. I’ve been involved from the beginning of so many projects and it’s great to see the arts centre change into a place that makes a lot of difference to young people.
It’s a really interesting place to be and the people are fun. It’s helped me to decide that I want to work in the arts, and the experience I gained here definitely stood out to my current employer. Currently I’m working as an apprentice at Booster Cushion Theatre, who specialise in educational children’s theatre. While working there I’m doing a live events qualification and all the skills I have learnt at HAC have helped me to know I can be successful in this, and that this is what I want to do.
I’m more focussed and I know now what exact career path I want to go down; HAC has helped me to develop my skills specifically for that. I don’t think I would have thought to pursue a career in the arts without being involved at HAC.