Hi, my name's George and I'm 19 years old. I'm from Hampshire, born and bred. I love writing and a bit of footie which I know you don't usually see in the same sentence but anyway…
Many of you reading this are probably debating on your future careers or next steps, much like myself. As I said, I love writing and this is what I would like to pursue, but I'm very much in the early stages of my career and undertaking an Arts Award has taught me a lot more about myself than anything I have ever experienced before.
I left school just crazy about acting. Any chance I could grab to get up on a stage would literally make my life for those few days, weeks or months. Mum was always banging on about when the next show was and Nan was desperate to see me on her old, barely working TV set on corrie. And for a while after leaving school, I honestly felt like acting was my future; completely oblivious to what else was out there as a naïve 16 year old.
As I approached college, I was given the opportunity to become a group assistant at my local youth theatre and working in this environment opened my eyes hugely to what else was on offer in this bizarre world of theatre.
I then saw an advert online for an apprenticeship at Chichester Festival Theatre within the Learning, Education and Participation department. Looking at my next steps and knowing Uni life, courses and debt just wasn't for me, I decided to apply. I waited. Waited some more. Eventually heard. After interviewing on the hottest day of the decade in a suit a little bit too small, I managed to get my first full time job.
Now around 8 months down the line, I can't describe how much of an incredible time I'm having at CFT. I'm the current Youth Theatre Apprentice and have been working on a Gold Arts Award since September. Through doing this qualification, I have been gifted a medium in which to document my experience and evaluate each step; helping me realise more about my preferences in working life and what I might decide to do next.
Personally, I think any level of Arts Award is an incredible process for any young person to be involved with. Sure it feels a bit like coursework and can seem a bit daunting when first starting out, but in these stages of our lives, there is nothing more important than learning as much as we can about the fascinating art surrounding us on a daily basis, as well as the people involved with it. In particular with Gold, the section requiring you to interview advanced arts practitioners really helps in developing your interpersonal and communication skills; whilst furthering your knowledge of different roles and the arts in general. In this sense, the personal and artistic benefits an Arts Award holds are just astonishing, and really can help in building a stronger creative mind-set, if you're that way inclined.
Reflecting back on when I first started and not having a clue where I was headed in the near or far future, I think things are clearer simply from realising my own strengths, weaknesses, likes and dislikes. This has only been possible through working towards completing certain sections of my Arts Award and reflecting on each bit.
As part of Unit 2, you have to manage an entire arts project; seeing it through from its concept to a public sharing and managing the feedback. I decided to combine two things which I really love; writing and working with other young people through a pilot digital playwriting programme called 'Digital Drafts' (catchy right?). Being the first ever arts project I've managed and delivered myself, I wanted to make sure it was the best it could possibly be which was only made achievable through writing down the mistakes, the problems and the solutions.
Now 2 months in with 6 radio plays ready to be recorded, edited and played to audiences from July-August, I cannot express in any understandable words how much Arts Award has benefitted me. By throwing me into the arts world and encouraging me to be brave and bold to create work for each of the Arts Award sections, I have become a much more confident person; meaning I am able to approach people and learn from their experience and knowledge which, in turn, has impacted on my work and social skills on the whole.
I would recommend Arts Award wholeheartedly to any young person of any background and age; no matter what career path you think you may choose or what you want to do at University. An Arts Award of any level opens you up to a whole new way of thinking and working. It can show you where you want to go, allow you to learn new skills, learn from your mistakes and develop yourself in so many different ways. Without it, I wouldn't be the person I am right now, considering the exciting possibilities that I realise are out there for me. Let's just hope I pass it…