sw voices

SW Voices: Serina Lopez

Serina joined us in October 2017 as a participant on STEP – the Shared Training and Employment Programme. Funded by the London Legacy Development Corporation, Sadler’s Wells is a host employer along with Bow Arts, NTS Radio, Rosetta Arts Centre and UAL’s London College of Fashion, partnering to provide a two-part, twelve-month paid internship in the creative and cultural sector. Serina has just finished her placement with Sadler’s Wells, and was successfully brought on as an assistant with Rambert Dance Company, where she starts later this month. 

 

Hi Serina, can you tell us a bit about yourself?

I completed my degree in Illustration in 2013, and soon after that I fell seriously ill – which kind of derailed my career plans. Looking back, I feel like that time gave me a chance to think about what I really wanted to do. I was interested in making clothes, so I decided to go to tailoring college. I had an internship on Savile Row for a bit – I learnt how to pattern cut from the director, it was amazing. After that I was pursuing different creative jobs, and while looking around I found out about the Creative Opportunities Programme. It’s a two week programme where they take a group of young people around different arts organisations.

 

How did you find out about the Shared Training and Employment Programme (STEP), and was there anything about Sadler’s Wells that particularly drew you in?

Everyone on the Creative Opportunities Programme was talking about this thing called STEP, which I initially hadn’t heard of, but I did some research. They work with loads of different creative and arts organisations in London; it seemed ideal. There was a lot of competition, but I applied and was accepted.

In the application form, you choose certain categories and you’re assigned an organisation. So in a way, I didn’t expect to be here. But I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity – they must have thought we were a good match. STEP segments the internship into two six-month placements, which for me was two different departments at Sadler’s Wells – Visitor Experience and Programming & Touring.

 

What has your internship involved day-to-day? How has the work differed between the two departments?

My first placement was in the Visitor Experience department, which was fascinating. I learnt so much. You’re basically dealing with the skeleton of the organisation, encompassing cleaning, security, safety – the foundations of any venue. Things without which a theatre couldn’t function. It’s really important to have a solid core, and I felt like Visitor Experience was at the core of Sadler’s Wells. Day-to-day, there could be a number of different things going on. I was a port of call for security issues, I coordinated training days, I made sure all the safety information was up to date. Quite a lot of responsibility, really.

In April I started in Production and Touring, where I am now. You’re dealing with the artistic side of things, and involves a lot of behind-the-scenes details to make sure that what the audience see on stage is perfect. This could be dancers’ logistics – making sure that they’re happy, that the technical team are pleased, and everything runs smoothly.

 

Is there anything you have particularly enjoyed during your time at Sadler’s Wells?

I couldn’t narrow it down to a single project – it’s been the whole experience, really! When I was ill I felt pretty lonely and limited, and so being able to talk to people and learn about what they do was great. Hearing about other people’s journeys and how it’s led them here – it’s been fascinating. Although one day stands out, when I was shadowing the wardrobe team for a Matthew Bourne performance. I’m passionate about clothes and costumes, so it was beautiful to see their work.

 

Any challenges?

Adjusting to the pace can be difficult. When I first started, I only had a month’s prior office experience. Remembering names, protocols, keeping organised – that was a challenge. Once you’re into the swing of things, it’s fine. It was like a locomotive; it might take a short while to start, but once you’re rolling, you’re OK. I think it’s a feature of working as an intern at Sadler’s Wells – you have real responsibility from the outset. The work that I do as an intern demonstrably helps everyone else.

 

How do you feel the placement will benefit your career?

I think it’s greatly helped. My background is mostly creative, and so I always wanted to work in a creative organisation. With those organisational and coordination skills, everything I learned here is transferable. If I were to go into another arts organisation or even another industry, what I’ve learned will set me up pretty well.

 

What advice would you give others thinking of pursuing a career in the arts or creative industries?

You have to be resilient. Some of the jobs that you do might not be what you imagined you would be doing, some tasks might seem mundane. But it all forms part of a creative endeavour. There’s beauty in doing things well.

SW Voices: Tiegan Hummerston

Tiegan Hummerston joined us in September 2016 on an apprenticeship placement, working at Sadler’s Wells for four days a week while she studied toward a formal qualification in Business Administration. Earlier this year, Tiegan was shortlisted for the National Apprenticeship Week’s Creative Apprentice of the Year award with Lewisham Southwark College. She was recently promoted to HR Assistant, taking up a full-time position. In this interview, Tiegan shares her experiences of working for Sadler’s Wells and in HR.

Hi Tiegan, can you tell us a bit about yourself?

I grew up in Essex, where I still live today. After finishing my GCSEs and A-Levels, I wasn’t quite sure about what I wanted to do next. Most people my age were going to university, but I didn’t feel ready to commit entirely to one subject – my A-Levels were fairly diverse; Psychology, History, Art and Law – so I decided to look into a range of apprenticeships and work opportunities. I was taken on for two weeks’ work experience in two separate companies, both of them in HR departments. I decided to try this experience, as it was suggested to me based on my current interests and skill set. After undertaking these two weeks’ worth, I felt very positive about the experience and decided to begin applying to full-time HR apprenticeship schemes.

How did you find out about the apprenticeship, and was there anything about Sadler’s Wells that particularly drew you in?

I actually found the posting through the gov.uk website. I hadn’t heard much about Sadler’s Wells, but I did some research and was intrigued – I liked the fact that they wanted to get young people involved in the arts, both in terms of engaging them in dance and in terms of helping them get experience in and be employed in the creative sector.

What did your apprenticeship involve, and how does it compare to your role now?

While doing the apprenticeship, it very much felt like I was a full-time employee – so there wasn’t actually a huge jump in terms of workload! The role came with a lot of responsibility quite early on. I’m still very happy I was formally taken on. Our HR Coordinator recently left, which provided me with an open opportunity to be kept on in the department. After discussing my interest in staying with my colleagues and line manager, they decided to reset the job level to an Assistant role, to which I was happy and comfortable with applying for. The only noted difference is that my workload has gone up – so the sort of experience I was gaining during the apprenticeship has been important for staying on top of things.

During my training period, I was at Sadler’s Wells for four days a week, and I was going to college on a day release on the other day. The course was in Business Administration, and we did coursework, had lectures and exams. So I was getting the roots of the theory for one day a week, then applying that on the other days – it was an interesting combination.

What have you particularly enjoyed during your time at Sadler’s Wells?

I’ve enjoyed a lot, but some of the aspects of recruitment in particular – I like meeting new people, and it’s been great to put into practice the policies about engaging young people I first read about on the website. An event that sticks in my mind is Skills London, an event where everyone in Sadler’s Wells HR and some of the interns go to the ExCeL Centre in East London to talk to young people about work opportunities and the creative sector. We had our own stall and spoke to loads of people; it was really interesting and great to engage with young people who are considering a career in the arts.

Staff induction days have been another highlight – it’s great to get experience in leadership, and curating a whole day of talks and activities makes for a really rewarding project.

What advice would you give others looking to make their way into the arts, HR, or the professional world more broadly?

If you don’t know what you want to do just yet, try getting experience in a field you think you might enjoy. I didn’t know what I wanted to do, I gave HR a go, and – perhaps luckily – it just really seemed to click with me. It’s not always a good idea to go to university just because people around you are going; it’s experience that gives you a real feel for what you might want to do in life. Do some research, dig around, and see what might appeal to you!

SW Voices: Comms Intern Belphoebe New

Sadler’s Wells is committed to building a culturally diverse workforce and offers a number of opportunities throughout the year to help young people take their first step in the creative sector. Bel joined Sadler’s Wells in June 2017 and worked for six months in the Corporate Communications team, where she helped to promote the theatre and its work. She told us more about her internship and what she learnt.

What is your background?

I’m from Oxford originally, and during school I occasionally volunteered at a theatre company based in the city. I studied English Literature at Queen Mary University of London, and during that time I spent two years working as the Arts Editor of our student union newspaper and magazine. Straight after graduating, I began working as a Copywriter and Digital Marketing Assistant at a creative agency, writing copy for our clients’ brochures and websites. After a couple of years, I decided that I wanted to focus my career within the arts, so I started an Editorial internship at an arts marketing agency, writing articles including exhibition reviews and interviews for their website.

How did you find out about the internship and why did you apply to work at Sadler’s Wells?

I came across the internship on Arts Jobs. I was looking for something that could help me take the first steps in becoming an arts professional and offer some training too. Admittedly I knew next to nothing about dance before starting here, apart from taking a few contemporary dance classes, but my sister was always fascinated by ballet growing up, so I had some exposure to it during childhood. I’d heard of Sadler’s Wells before and I knew it had an excellent reputation as an arts organisation and for presenting world-class dance, so it seemed like the ideal place to gain experience of the inner workings of an arts venue in London.

What does your internship involve?

I support the Senior Communications Manager in raising the profile, and promoting the vision, of the organisation. My projects have included assisting with the production of our annual review 2016-17, liaising with different departments to acquire information and images, as well as drafting sections. I also coordinated content and wrote sections of a brochure for guests of the Material Movement evening, a joint fundraising event held by Sadler’s Wells and London College of Fashion in November. Day-to-day, I help write content for the executive team, create posts for the Sadler’s Wells LinkedIn and Twitter accounts, and I also manage the Sadler’s Wells’ blog, coming up with content ideas and helping to publicise our programmes and initiatives, such as Learning & Engagement and sustainability projects.

What have you learned so far?

An enormous amount! I feel that I’ve had an unrivalled insight into how a large arts venue works. I’ve been fortunate enough to work across many different departments, learning about the work that they do to ensure that Sadler’s Wells is active in the local community and encouraging openness and diversity. I felt particularly that my line manager Giulia was an encyclopedia of knowledge about Sadler’s Wells and the creative industry as a whole!

I have also learnt how to take responsibility for my own workload and be proactive in ensuring I am up-to-date with activities across the organisation. I’ve gotten to grips with a whole new writing style and understood the importance of accuracy, consistent messaging and sensitivity. But I think one of the most important things I’ve learnt is that it’s good to be inquisitive and ask questions, even if it feels like they are too obvious!

What do you particularly enjoy as part of the internship?

I love the environment of working in a busy theatre. I have never worked anywhere this large before, and being able to go and see shows, to see great art and know that you’re part of it in some small way, there’s honestly nothing like it. I also never felt restricted as part of this internship and was treated just like any other employee. I was encouraged to work independently and seek out new opportunities to learn in the organisation, from independently sourcing content for the fundraising event brochure through to running a Twitter Q&A with one of our visiting companies!

What do you find is the most challenging aspect of it?

I think with the amount of trust bestowed in me there were many new challenges. Sometimes it was difficult to complete everything I wanted to do at particularly busy times, and taking part in large meetings was also something I’d never done before, so I struggled with my confidence a little. But I like to feel challenged and some of these moments I would honestly say were part of my highlights of working here.

How do you feel the internship will benefit your career?

Prior to this I knew I wanted to work in the arts sector, as theatres, museums and galleries are honestly the places in which I feel most comfortable, but I didn’t know quite where I could fit. My role as Communications Intern helped me to clarify and centre my focus on what I wanted to do in the arts, and gave me indispensable experience within a prestigious arts organisation. I am now going on to a full time, permanent role as Communications Assistant at Art Fund, so it has undoubtedly been the perfect first step into a role within the creative sector.

What advice would you give to other graduates doing a placement through the programme?

Be proactive, go after your own opportunities within the organisation and don’t be afraid to be challenged. The focus is very much on helping you to learn, grow, and gain as much experience as possible. Always be inquisitive, ask lots of questions and really make the most of your time here. Be active, enthusiastic and don’t be afraid to ask advice about your work or the next steps in your career, the people here come from such varied career backgrounds and are always happy to help!

SW Voices: Programming Coordinator Sarah Lacombe

Sadler’s Wells offers a number of internships in different departments within the organisation, giving young people the opportunity to take their first step into a career in the creative industries. Programming Coordinator Sarah Lacombe is responsible for organising the logistics of the productions which are presented at Sadler’s Wells. She first joined the programming team in March 2016 through the Creative Employment Islington Programme, and in July 2017 she became Programming Coordinator. We asked Sarah about how her internship helped her to access the creative industries and the advice she would give to other interns.

What is your background?

I studied in France and read English Speaking Countries Culture and Arts for both my undergraduate and postgraduate degrees. It would be the equivalent of English Literature in the UK, with a focus on performing arts (theatre, dance, circus), visual arts and cinema. I also did an Erasmus exchange here in London at King’s College London studying mainly French Literature.

You started out at Sadler’s Wells as part of the Creative Employment Islington Programme, can you tell us a bit more about that, such as how you found out about it and what made you want to work in programming?

I discovered the Creative Employment Islington Programme on the Arts Council England’s mailing list – Arts Jobs. I was living in Islington at the time and thought it would be a great opportunity. I was fascinated by the idea of curating a programme and working closely with companies. Through a variety of different internships, I gained experience in the creative industry. I learnt that I wanted a career that enabled me to be as close to the artists and their creative processes as possible. The Creative Employment Islington Programme provided this experience and served as a perfect stepping stone for me to proceed into artistic programming.

What was your experience interning at Sadler’s Wells, for instance the kind of day-to-day tasks and projects you worked on?

There is a very positive attitude shared amongst the staff at Sadler’s Wells. I felt welcomed and included from the beginning. As an intern, I worked on every production we presented at our three venues (Sadler’s Wells Theatre, Lilian Baylis Studio and Peacock Theatre) and off-site, as well as artists development projects such as our Summer University programme. I provided administrative support to other members of the team, from booking transfers and accommodation to planning receptions or greeting visiting companies during airport pick-ups. With two to three new productions opening each week, my role was very diverse and interesting.

How do you think that the Creative Employment Programme influenced and helped you pursue your career?

The Creative Employment Programme narrowed down the competition during the application process, which I think is even harder for young people with little work experience. It was a great opportunity to take a step further in my career, and I have been able to evolve quite quickly after it. It would also have been a great kick-starter to then continue a career in the arts.

What would you say you particularly enjoy about your job and working in programming specifically?

What I enjoy the most about my job is working with artists and being close to the creative process. The communication and social aspect of the role are also very interesting as I get to meet lots of new people from all around the world every week, all with different backgrounds and experiences – which is fascinating.

What have you learnt so far in your time here?

During my time at Sadler’s Wells, I have learnt many valuable things both on a professional and personal level. Working on so many shows at the same time has enabled me to improve my ability to manage competing workloads and prioritise tasks accordingly. I have also developed my communication skills, which is vital when serving as the main point of contact for visiting companies. As a result my self-confidence has improved greatly, and of course, my knowledge of contemporary dance!

What advice would you give to other young people doing an internship at Sadler’s Wells?

My advice to people doing an internship at Sadler’s Wells is to see as many productions as possible and research each department to get a clearer understanding of what each team’s role is within the creative process. I would highly recommend doing an internship here as it is a vibrant place with many fascinating projects to work on. It’s a great opportunity to meet many people in the industry, develop and refine artistic taste and start a career in the arts.

Figuring It Out: Michael Johnson on his Producing and Touring Internship

On the last day of his internship, Michael Johnson reflects on his six-month experience in the Producing & Touring team at Sadler’s Wells.

Getting out of the lift to the offices of Sadler’s Wells Theatre – just above and behind the historic main stage, there is an image by photographer, Mike Figgis of Ballet Frankfurt, taken in April 2004. Within the picture hides the uber-tall and magnificent dancer, Stephen Galloway waving his arm. Galloway is a giant creative force in both the dance and fashion industry, with a career I aspire to follow, so it felt inspiring to see this image every working day in my new role as the Producing and Touring intern.

Photograph by Mike Figgis that hangs in the Sadler’s Wells office buildings.

I came to Sadler’s following a few years of working as a professional dancer and came wanting to learn as much as I possibly could about the role of producing and ways to tour dance works internationally, as well as playing a small part in one of the strongest powerhouses of contemporary dance in the world, which I have admired for most of my life.

This was not your average or basic internship. There is of course the odd post office errand to run, expenses to file and internal mail to send to stage door, but you are never treated as the office aide.

Alongside continual development opportunities across the team, you are pulled in many directions, which reminds me of a dancer in the studio. I had the chance to work on a variety of tasks and projects in my six-month placement.  There is rarely a dull day in the Producing & Touring office. You are mentored with guidance and care, such as one-to-one meetings with senior producers who seek to fulfil your individual expectations.

Sweet treats from foreign trips are always in abundance, as producers are flying back from all corners of the world such as international festivals, opening nights or rehearsals, where a vast portfolio of Producing & Touring shows are created and presented.

Challenges morph, but rarely escalate in the Producing & Touring team. You’re constantly learning both hard and soft skills, from finding out the most efficient modes of travel for your productions on the road, to witnessing how to evacuate members of your team from a category 5 hurricane.

In my final week as an intern, I was offered the chance to oversee the London Fashion Week show of fashion designer and Sadler’s Wells ambassador Hussein Chalayan. Chalayan’s collaborations with Sadler’s Wells include Gravity Fatigue, the first dance production he ever directed, and the upcoming new show Dystopian Dream, of which he is designing the costumes. This opportunity was a perfect chance to gauge my skills in helping to produce a live fashion event within a traditional dance theatre context.

My biggest revelation was realising that the Producing & Touring team, from freelance technicians to wardrobe staff, producers and coordinators, all work tirelessly against constant pressures, both financial and artistic, to ensure that the best contemporary dance shows get out there and seen all over the world. Following this internship, I hope to continue my own projects as an independent dance producer, specialising in dance and fashion. In the not so distant future, I look forward to producing my own projects in dance and fashion through my company, Mode and Motion. Taking the breadth of experiences gained here at Sadler’s with me, I hope to continue chasing in Stephen Galloway’s footsteps.

Image of Michael by Nick Eagle

 

Sadler’s Wells’ Voices: HR Coordinator Braham Lyons

Sadler’s Wells offers a number of apprenticeships, giving young people the opportunity to access practical training and develop crucial knowledge and skills across different areas of the creative industries. Braham Lyons is a member of our Human Resources team, who joined Sadler’s Wells in October 2014 as an Administrative Apprentice, moving up the ranks to HR Assistant before becoming HR Coordinator in June 2016. We spoke to Braham about what he learned from his apprenticeship, further study and his advice for future Sadler’s Wells apprentices. What is your background? I left school and started an English Literature degree at university, but within the first year I knew it wasn’t right for me and I ended up withdrawing from the course entirely. Fjallraven Kanken Mini I’ve always loved theatre and the arts so knew I wanted to work in some way in the industry, but I had no idea what to do to get in! I spent a few years working as a freelance writer, where I undertook a theatre’s writers programme, staged my own play at a fringe theatre, and had a children’s play published but I was still struggling to find regular work and it was really stressful trying to live and work that way, I really needed to find an option for a career rather than odd jobs! You started out at Sadler’s Wells doing an apprenticeship in HR. How did you find out about this and why did you want to apply for it? I found the opportunity on Arts Jobs, at the time I was looking for a way to get in to an arts organisation and gain some solid experience to build on, but I had very little relevant experience, so the apprenticeship looked the perfect way to build my experience while learning about the industry. To be honest, I really didn’t know that arts administration or HR roles existed within the arts industry, so it was refreshing to find an entry level opportunity that was open to me and that I had a real chance of getting. What was your experience of the apprenticeship, for instance the kind of day-to-day tasks and projects you worked on? The great thing about being an apprentice here was that I was treated exactly as any other member of permanent staff, I was given responsibility and control over my own workload which is something I wasn’t expecting. My main focus was recruitment so assisting with everything from job creation through to coordinating interviews, and job offers which is great because you get to deliver good news, and so many people are genuinely excited to come and work at Sadler’s Wells. I also worked across the administrative functions, so helping staff with benefits, and keeping track of annual leave. blade and soul gold As our department is quite small, I got a lot of exposure to wider HR issues and projects as well, so I had a fantastic oversight of HR over the course of the year. ugg pour homme pas cher All of the academic work was linked into the day to day work I was doing as well, so it felt like I got to apply my learning on a continuous basis. How do you think that this apprenticeship was helpful in helping you pursue your career? I really wouldn’t have even known that this was a viable career for me without completing the apprenticeship. It gave me a year of solid work experience, and confidence with a qualification to back it up. I was lucky in that a role within the department became available for me to apply for, but if it hadn’t, I felt that I would have been in a strong position to apply for entry level HR roles in other organisations. With the range of experience I built up, it transformed my confidence and how I felt about my employability and career options. You went from being an Administrative Apprentice and you’re now the HR Coordinator. What would you say you particularly enjoy about your job and working in HR? In HR you’re always looking at how things can be improved, and I have a lot of freedom in pursuing projects and initiatives that will help Sadler’s Wells as a whole, it’s great to have that freedom and also the confidence from my Head of Department to work in that way. With recruitment, I also get to represent Sadler’s Wells which is something I’m really proud of, and the interactions I have with people are often their first impression of the organisation so it’s great when I can help them join in a really positive way. adidas zx pas cher What have you learnt so far in your time here? I gained a lot of confidence in myself and my ability, but I have also learned that you can’t do everything by yourself. You need to use other people’s expertise and skills, and really work together to perform at your best. Another key thing is to not assume and to go for opportunities that intrigue you. Before doing my apprenticeship I thought studying wasn’t for me, but now after completing my apprenticeship and working within HR, I’ve gone back to university as a part time student to obtain a CIPD qualification and I’ve absolutely loved it (couldn’t be more different to the abandoned English degree!), I can’t wait to be qualified, which is something I never thought would happen! What advice would you give to other young people doing an apprenticeship at Sadler’s Wells? You will get out whatever you put into your time here, so if you’re interested in something, speak up and get involved with as many different areas as you can.