My Traineeship: the scene, the fear & keeping curious

Posted by: Sian Baxter on Jun 22, 2016

I heard about the Artsadmin traineeship through previous trainee Karl’s blog, in which he recounts his experiences (a blog which is definitely worth a read if you are considering applying). One year on, it feels very surreal to be writing a similar post myself. Here is a reflection on my experience as the Artsadmin trainee and an insight into what I have learnt this past year to give a taster of what the traineeship is like…

No two days have looked the same in the office but general tasks have ranged from running the weekly E-digest, attending and inputting in advice sessions and helping with the organising and delivering of our Sweatshops. Some larger responsibilities have included writing Grants for the Arts applications, assisting with booking and delivering a national tour, working on projects as part of 2 Degrees Festival and being on the panel for the 2016/17 Artsadmin Artists’ Bursary Scheme, longlisting and shortlisting just 9 artists from 302 applications. I have found myself meeting with architects about building an office in a tree, rapping on stage at our infamous Christmas party, running a tombola in fancy dress and running in a pancake race as the Tin Man (see photo above).

It would be impossible to write about everything I have learnt or found valuable but here is a small insight into a tiny snippet of things I have picked up along the way:

Keeping up to date with ‘the scene’ – I had never lived in London before so jumped at the chance to see as much work from as many different artists at as many venues as possible, budget allowing. (Disclaimer: as a northerner I have to point out that this doesn’t mean only good work comes out of London!) As a producer and advisor, keeping up to date with current performance trends and emerging artists is important as you need to be able to place an artists work in a wider context and it helps you to think about who the artists you’re working with or advising could be speaking to, what work they could be watching, and how they might speak about their own work within a wider context.

The traineeship offers a monthly allowance to watch performances or attend talks/workshops, which I took full advantage of and I strongly urge the next trainee to do the same.

Most people aren’t as scary as you think – Networking is an important part of the job and once you get awkward introductions out of the way, conversation usually flows. When I first started the traineeship I remember attending a conference alone and I didn’t speak to a single person and felt so out of my depth. I quickly learnt that you just have to bite the bullet and introduce yourself and have always been pleasantly surprised by how warm and approachable people have ended up being.

It’s ok to ask loads of questions – Huge cliché I know, but it’s a traineeship so if you’re not asking questions you’re not learning. I once stood by the printer for about 20 minutes before asking how to turn it on. That was stupid.

Artsadmin is a small and dynamic team and what is so special about this traineeship is that it caters to you as an individual and has been flexible enough to suit my interests. For example, in the past final months I have been working more on the events at Toynbee Studios – as a way to build on my growing interest in programming, including assisting with our A Nation’s Theatre programme in May.

This year has been the biggest most amazing learning curve and I cannot explain enough how much this traineeship has taught me about producing and contemporary performance in general: How can I support and facilitate artistic practice through the role of a producer or advisor? What work is being seen and why? How do I talk about work in a constructive and helpful way?

I have stayed on at Artsadmin as a Projects and Advisory Assistant for four months until the end of August, which is a great experience in putting into practice what I learnt on the traineeship. I don’t know quite what the future holds but I feel equipped and excited. Watch this space.

Artsadmin's 2017 Traineeship is now open for applications. Deadline is 12pm, Monday 27 June. For more information visit our jobs page

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