Let me set the scene for you; there’s 11 artists standing in a circle introducing themselves despite the fact that some have known each other for years, but still, the part they are playing or their role in our Christmas Light Switch On extravaganza is shared. Sarah, our illustrious leader and the director, is speaking when there’s a loud bang as the tricky warehouse door slams and in walks a young girl, 18 years old and a terrified beaming smile as if to say ‘Please don’t shout at me’ on her face ..... everyone looks around questioning; who is she.
“Hi I’m Bella. I met Mark yesterday and he told me to come along today...?”
Silence as everyone looks at me...
“Hi Bella. Everyone this is Bella! I met her while I was teaching yesterday and said she could come along for some work experience.”
The room erupts in laughter!
“That’s typical of you!”
“Only Highly Sprung would do that...”
I looked around the room perplexed as to why they would all be laughing and all of a sudden it twigged; with the exception of maybe one of them, they had all been on work experience or a trainee placement with us at one point or another.
Zoe, our administrator started as a 2 week work placement and still with us 5 years later. Claire, Anna, Emily, Charlotte all came through our trainee emerging artist program ARTIST LAB and it has been an honour to have taught and worked alongside Ben and AJ since their early teens; Both having been trained by us having predated ARTIST LAB but they’re certainly the inspiration for one of our most exciting flagship projects.
No wonder they laughed when a future local artist walked into the most precious of spaces, a rehearsal room, ready to work having had a 5min conversation with one of the directors... why? Because that’s what Highly Sprung does! It supports local up-coming talent and gives them a spring board into the difficult arts sector.
Some have gone on to work at the National Theatre alongside Hollywood superstars others, touring in their iconic productions. We currently have one of our artists working at the National Opera and others have even started their own arts company.
One may well question if we mind that our investment of time, energy and money in these young people is profited on by other organisations?...
...That’s easy to answer; we don’t!
Sarah and I take a great deal of joy in watching shy, inexperienced artist growing and developing. It improves our work, it pushes us creatively and more importantly it makes for a great place to work.
So here is my challenge to Coventry; a city battling it out for City of Culture 2021.
Take a risk. Challenge yourself and invest in an artist's vision. Trust that when they say ‘This will work’ it will, don’t pull out the red tape every time they suggest something new or that challenges ‘tradition’. Believe in the power of the arts not just in the individual but on the whole. Having taught all over the country as well as internationally, Cov kids are great.... their creativity,
imagination and ingenuity are second to none, as demonstrated every year in our PHYSICAL FELLOWSHIP and ONE GIANT LEAP projects. Let’s keep that going into adulthood. Let’s build a Coventry that celebrates together, instead of city bashing together. Give your residents spectacles and experiences that other cities are giving their inhabitants. Try your best to keep the artists you have working here, staying here. Whether you realise it or not they are being drawn away and used by other cities. Make your city great again; whether we are the City of Culture or not, make Coventry a cultural city.
If you can follow these rules, the fantastic arts organisations we already have will blossom, the city will flourish and we will all reap the benefits.
...and in the words of Bella the work experience:
“I never realised that anything like this was possible. It’s amazing! Thank you.”
#Coventry #ThisisCoventry #UKCityofCulture2021