Arty Roots: Unlimited Trainee blogs

A view of the Tower of London from Tower Bridge
Imposing columns squeezing London's history into shrinking pockets of the past.

Oliver Longhurst the new Unlimited Trainee Producer talks about his previous experiences within the arts

I’m Ollie, the new Unlimited Trainee Producer; I’ll be here with Artsadmin and Shape working away for the next year trying to cram all that is Unlimited and arts producing into my head. I started just over a month ago and now that we’ve had our launch and the commissions for 2015 – 2016 have been selected it’s full steam ahead, I can’t wait!

The world of arts producing is all very new to me and if I’m honest, a little bit scary but I think I’ll soon get a good grasp of it and I’ll enjoy the ride. Though arts producing is new to me, disability arts is where you’ll find my arty roots.

Towards the end of 2012 I was lucky enough to be offered a year long apprenticeship with DaDaFest and Tate Liverpool. For those of you that haven’t heard of DaDaFest, they are a truly inspirational disability arts organisation based in Liverpool where they deliver a biennial festival and other disability and deaf arts events. The Artistic Director there, Ruth Gould, is the chair of the selection panel for Unlimited.

They also have a brilliant young people’s programme (Young DaDa), which was the main focus of my apprenticeship (other than getting lost among all the art in the galleries at Tate Liverpool.) Though the apprenticeship was only a year long, DaDaFest couldn’t get rid of me; I continued to volunteer with Young DaDa and the festival right up to starting my new role here with Unlimited.

I guess you could say that I haven’t taken the most traditional route to get to where I am but it seems to be working and in all honesty, I feel pretty lucky that I’m not going to have to pay off a stack of student loans that would probably beat me in a height contest (I’m not the tallest of people, being only 5ft)!

I lied a little before, my arty roots go back quite a bit further than just a couple of years. Throughout school, sixth form and college I had always taken art subjects. I studied graphic design, product design, fine art and then I took a photography course in college. Granted, I did leave the course half-way through but that was because I wanted a course that was a little more practical. I’ve never regretted leaving early, I mean I wouldn’t be here today in London of all places on a traineeship to be an arts Producer if I had stuck with it.
An images showing the Shard towering over the surrounding buildings
Ever since I was little (littler) I’ve been dragging a camera around with me and that hasn’t changed – the two images you can see, I took not long after coming to London. It has always interested me how with each year that passes the modern buildings and ever growing population seems to squeeze and squeeze the history of the city into shrinking pockets of the past. Give it a few more years and you’ll only be able to see the Tower of London from Google Maps, tucked away behind the imposing columns that already fill this city’s skyline.

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