2 April 2014back

Creative Internships Blog Week 22

Roisin Daley, Young at Art

Working with both Young at Art and Arts & Business NI means that I get invited to lots of interesting events and even the occasionally glamorous party, such as the recent Allianz Arts & Business NI Awards at the Ulster Hall in February. I volunteered to help out behind the scenes of the event, and met and spoke with many different and interesting people from both arts and non-arts organisations. The awards show was a big success and it was brilliant to see local people win awards and get real recognition for their contribution and collaboration in both the arts and business sector in Northern Ireland.

However, the life of a fundraising intern is not always glitz and glamour; the past few months have been extremely busy at Young at Art HQ with the annual Belfast Children’s Festival, which kicked off from 7th-14th March. A resounding success, it showcased the best of local and international theatre, visual arts, music, dance, and was our most engaging yet to date. I assisted in the festival marketing campaign, working closely with our marketing officer, Rosey, and also liaising with box office manager, Karen, to boost ticket sales and create awareness through our social media channels. I really enjoyed having the responsibility and independence which this gave me, as it meant I also got the opportunity to see and tweet about all of the fantastic high quality shows! Although hard to choose; my two favourite events were ‘Bang’; an eccentric, surreal performance by French duo Compagnie Volpinex, who used toys and crazy gadgets to create a small scale spaghetti western in front of a live audience. It was an unforgettable show, which had the audience rapt with laughter and amazement in equal measure. I also adored ‘A Mano’, a beautiful puppetry performance by Spanish company El Patio, which used clay figures to convey the harsh reality of economic hardship. It was incredibly moving and thought provoking, and there were very few dry eyes in the auditorium that afternoon (myself included..!) It was incredible to witness just how much children enjoyed the performances and activities on offer. I saw young primary school children sit hypnotised while watching experimental contemporary dance from Sweden at ‘Bartholomeo’ and three year olds hypnotised by German performers at Cocoon whilst a few days earlier I had been watching parents boogying with toddlers and babies at the Indian themed Bollywood baby rave event.

Managing the social media channels meant that I had the opportunity to speak to many people, both online and also in person whilst attending different events. Even through casual conversation I was struck by their positive feedback, as many teachers explained to me how much they look forward to booking every year, and parents spoke how attending the festival had become a new tradition in their family, with grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins all coming together to attend, some from over 50 miles away.  I was perhaps most humbled by people’s reactions to our ‘relaxed performances’, specially tailored accessible theatre performances for children with autism, and other sensory sensitivities. Many parents spoke passionately about how invaluable these shows were in reducing stress and anxiety which some children can face when trying new experiences, and were also thrilled by how much their kids enjoyed and engaged with the plays. It made me realise that this is exactly what arts fundraising is all about; bringing these kind of life changing and accessible experiences to people and making things happen.

The aftermath of the festival has also been very busy with completing evaluation reports, however in the midst of all this I was pleased to hear back from another two successful funding applications! It has been so encouraging and fantastic to get such positive results, and it has made me feel so much more confident and capable in myself as a fundraiser. This has also been boosted by my recent meeting with my Arts Mentor, Eimear Henry, who works as a Tourism, Arts Culture and Development Officer at Belfast City Council. Eimear has already achieved so much in her career, having previously worked as Executive Director at Replay Theatre Company, and I am delighted to have her as my mentor. Already she has been giving me lots of useful advice about where to take my career next, and I am really excited about the future.

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