The inside track from Rosie, our current Unlimited Trainee

My traineeship nears its end, and the search for the 2015 Trainee has already begun, so it is time to reflect on my journey as the first Unlimited Trainee Producer. As the year has gone by, I have learnt an incredible amount, met some wonderfully wacky people and felt my self-confidence grow. I’m hoping that this blog will give applicants an idea of what to expect from the traineeship, as well as a few tips on how to complete your application.

I have loved the past year; I’ve met some extraordinary people and found a job that I really enjoy, not many people can say that. Along the way I have engaged with some beautiful art, some completely bonkers art and some bits I am trying to permanently erase from my memory! Before I got here I had severe anxiety, panicked at the thought of meeting new people and couldn’t even turn-up in person to do an interview (I did my interview over Skype). Now I am transformed into a person who can attempt all these situations I used to dread. I’m not sure the Traineeship will deliver these life-changing benefits to everyone who applies, but you never know until you try it!

When I first heard about the Traineeship I thought what the heck is an ‘arts producer’? I’ve learnt that it is a very varied and exciting role, especially within Unlimited. Whilst we are not directly producing artists work, we do fund it, provide mentoring support, help with access and provide training and networking opportunities. In addition to this, we do sometimes give the artists opportunities to present their work, whether at Southbank Centre’s Unlimited Festival or through regional showcases. As the Trainee I help out on all of this, which is not only interesting but it has given me the chance to see what it is that I like doing.

Responsibilities

My main responsibility is as the key contact to five of our artists (two have commissions and three the have Research and Development grants). As their key contact I am in regular contact with them discussing what stage their projects are at, their touring schedules, gathering any marketing bits and bobs we may need for newsletters and showcases. I am expected to feedback on their progress to the wider team and raise any potential problems they are experiencing. It is important for the artists to feel supported by Unlimited, as we aim to be far more than just a funding body.

The Traineeship is based at Artsadmin in East London, where I have worked closely with Clara Giraud, Unlimited’s Assistant Producer. Clara has many years experience under her belt as a producer, and is always on hand to coach you through tasks and dish out advice when you need it. I have also found out I really enjoy assisting on marketing for different Unlimited events, which involves working with Selma, the Marketing Officer which is always a laugh. Managing the online blog also falls to me, so I created a schedule and a list of ideas (which rarely gets kept to!) and nudge the team when it comes to writing posts – we all get to contribute. Sometimes I write my own content for the blog but do not worry if you find this prospect daunting, Jo Verrent, our Senior Producer, is a great editor and always gives good feedback.

My highlight of the traineeship has been without a doubt the Unlimited Festival in September 2014. Seeing beautiful pieces of work, which I have watched come together over months and months, all culminate at the Southbank Centre was really amazing and something the whole team took great pride in. My favourite pieces from the festival were Backstage in Biscuit Land by Touretteshero and Wendy Hoose by Birds of Paradise – my face was literally aching from laughing so hard! The festival was very tiring for our core team, as we were on hand all week to help the artists, host events, assist with access requirements and tweet all the daily activity. It was an ideal opportunity to see a breadth of work and meet tons of people from the disability arts sector-I am already looking forward to the next festival in 2016!

Support

Support is on hand throughout the traineeship. We have regular team meetings to catch up and report back and these often involve delicious snacks and, occasionally, teddy bears (don’t ask). Crucially, I have one-to-one meetings with Jo Verrent too. This is where we discuss what I’m doing well at, what I need support with, and goals for the rest of my time at Artsadmin. During a one-to-one, Jo suggested tackling something I am scared of-public speaking. I have always been uncomfortable with public speaking, so we devised a plan for me to go on a course and we set mini goals to help me work towards overcoming my fear. Recently I reported on Unlimited’s progress in front of the wider team at Artsadmin – a task that previously would have transformed me into a quivering wreck. After I had done it, I felt such a sense of achievement, that when Jo asked me to take part in making a short video about my traineeship, I said ‘yes’, even though the thought petrifies me! Overall the support I have had across both Artsadmin and Shape Arts has been invaluable; I have been encouraged to embark on training schemes and shadow different people to get an idea of different job roles, to understand what everyone does as part of Unlimited machine. It has really given me the skills and the boost in confidence to take the next step in my career.

Advice for Applicants

My advice to anyone thinking of applying would be to take your time over the application, get someone to read it over for you, and if you can focus your critique on some Unlimited/Artsadmin/Shape project then that is good but not compulsory (I didn’t for mine when I applied!). You can get in touch with Sara from Shape Arts if you have any access requirements, as we accept applications in different forms and can support people’s access needs in making applications. One last tip is to research the Unlimited website and get a good understanding of the partnership between Artsadmin and Shape, why Unlimited is here and the history behind it…. It certainly helped me!

For more information on the traineeship and the application portal click here.

Good Luck!

 

 

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