Hi Ellen, thanks for agreeing to talk to us. Why don't you start by telling us a bit about your Gold Arts Award?
The art forms I chose for my Gold Arts Award have been wide ranging including writing, arts journalism, marketing and social media, and theatre production. I am generally really creative and am often happy to try completely new things.
I have been to a lot of events as part of my Arts Award and for my role as an Voice Mag reporter, which involved reviewing events at Bath Literature Festival and the Edinburgh Fringe. Some of my favourite events have been theatre shows such as Sleeping Trees at the Edinburgh Fringe and the Rhapsodes (an improvised Shakespeare group) at Bath literature Festival.
Tell us about your arts hero or any artists you worked?
As part of my research into practitioners I interviewed the mystery author and co-founder of The Pool, Sam Baker. This was a great opportunity as I used her book as part of my Masters in literature and I was eager to understand how she moved from journalism to fiction. I also worked with artists such as Curious and Von Turr Salon through Juice Festival, an event for 0-25 in Newcastle run by NGI, which was really exciting as I got experience in curating a big event with different commissions.
How did you share your arts skills or lead your own projects?
Across the whole award I did a lot of skills sharing, from collaborative workshops with Voice to facilitating workshops and running my own for younger children and teens doing their Bronze award through Team Juice. I also completed my leadership unit through producing Othello while I was at university. As well as being a public theatre production, I was responsible for advertising so my work was shared across social media!
Tell us about your Arts Award portfolio.
As I'm a writer at heart, I decided to create a blog with posts for each section. It meant that I could reflect quite easily as well as upload lots of photos as evidence. You can check it out at orangedoesgold.wordpress.com
Tell us about your opinion piece.
A subject I'm really passionate about is how we can use art as therapy and to support our mental health. For me, the particular focus was reading, because my degree is in Literature. I know reading is great for my mental health on a daily basis, however, I have also experienced books which affected me negatively, so I was keen to explore the fine line between what can help and what can hinder, and to what extent we need to use things like trigger warnings.
What was most valuable to you personally?
My experience with Voice has been by far the most valuable thing I've done. Even though I haven't progressed into arts journalism, they have helped me to find my voice as a writer and given me amazing opportunities to work at festivals like the Edinburgh Fringe and freelance on projects. These experiences allowed me to travel around the country, meet like minded people and make great friends and connections, and most of all it has helped me to progress in my career!
The most inspiring moment was at my first Edinburgh Fringe Festival as being surrounded by so many exciting and creative people and productions challenged me to respond more creatively. Reviewing up to six shows a day stretched my writing skills and some of my best pieces of writing came out of that week.
What did you find most challenging?
Juggling lots of things at once was probably the most challenging thing - at one point I was working, doing my MA, producing Othello and on Team Juice all at the same time! Doing the Arts Award has definitely taught me how to prioritise and where to set limits in a way that is positive.
What are you going to do next and how has Arts Award helped you?
The experiences I had as part of my Gold award have led me to my second graduate job as a Marketing Officer for a local sixth form, as they were really impressed by my experience working with young people and in social media. The plan is to stay in marketing, either in education or for a cultural or arts venue. I'm also considering a PHD in literature one day!
Who gave you the most help and inspiration?
Helen Ferguson, my advisor was absolutely the most helpful person. Helen ran Team Juice and I learnt so much from her through that role about the arts sector and events organisation, but she was also a brilliant advisor, pushing me to challenge myself and being incredibly patient and persevering with my huge portfolio.
Get Involved with Arts Award
Arts Award (What is Arts Award?) helps you to grow your talents, explore the arts, be a creative leader and get a qualification. If you’re already participating, go you! Head over to our Bronze and Gold hubs for more inspiration and support.
Join our Arts Award alumni network
We’re on the lookout for Arts Award alumni everywhere! We’re here to help support you in your next career steps and offer some useful and interesting benefits! Find out more and sign up.
Write for us
Help others like you get through their Arts Award qualification by writing about your tips and experiences. Become a Voice Contributor today.