Where are they now? with Tom Spence, Arts Award 15th Birthday

Tom Spence did his Arts Awards in the early days! He tells us about developing as a composer and his work with Skimstone Arts in Newcastle to celebrate Arts Award 15th birthday

Where are they now? with Tom Spence, Arts Award 15th Birthday

Current job title
I am a Volunteer Support Staff member of Skimstone Arts and composer of music for film

When did you complete your Arts Award?
I completed my Silver 2008 and my Gold 2012. I don't recall when I did my Bronze Award but it must have been very early in Arts Award’s existence!

What are you up to in your creative work at the moment? 
You can find my music and acting on the film entitled 'Timeshare' which I created with my wife Jessica Johnson. I’ve also been supporting another artist, Magpie, I provided a soundtrack to his piece called 'The Fallen.'  

What are the highlights of your arts career to date? 
When embarking on the journey of Gold Arts Award I met the person who would eventually become my wife. We share a great interest in the arts and we had a great time comparing notes and supporting one another to complete Gold Award.

My collaboration with my wife Jessica on the piece 'Timeshare' was a particular highlight. We'd never officially worked directly together on a project so realizing our potential as a team was particularly rewarding!

I’m also proud of my success as a composer of music for film working with Claire Webster Saaremetson two films - 'Michael's Map’ and 'Doorbells Covid-19’. I really enjoyed the challenge of this as I had always wanted to write film music. These were also my very first commissioned compositions.

What’s been the biggest challenge you’ve faced in your creative work or career since completing your Arts Award?  
Working out my role as an artist who is no longer a young artist! In Skimstone Arts we have the Young Artist Collective, Echo Artists, volunteers and paid staff members. Since I am 38 years old now it was a challenge to think ‘ok where does art fit in my life?’ As a result of this I took a year out of art to do a part-time job and I think that gave me time to reflect.

I returned to Skimstone Arts to take on the very different role of a piano teacher and pastoral support, both of which I thoroughly enjoy.

What do you hope to be doing in five years?  
To have further developed my compositional work and to embrace new challenges in film music.

I would like to be teaching keyboard skills on a more regular basis and to have strong professional relationships with young people and staff members at Skimstone.

Which level(s) of Arts Award did you do, and how did you use it to develop your creativity or skills? 

I did Bronze, Silver and Gold Awards. I focused on developing my composing of piano music which began when I was very young. Joining Skimstone Arts and beginning Arts Awards channelled my creative skills and challenged me as an artist to think of a particular direction to develop my musical skills towards. 

The skills I attained doing Arts Award took me into using music technology for the first time, using Sibelius software. I also built the confidence and the skill set to begin writing music for our band, 'Reality Boots’. 

Have you become an Arts Award adviser at any point since completing your Arts Award? 
I am an Arts Award Assistant adviser. I am present when support is needed in gathering evidence whether that be by taking photographs, gathering feedback, playing a role in a film by acting or filming. I also demonstrate how to share a skill such as keyboard skills, I support theory development and help others to write their own songs.

What advice would you give to young people doing Arts Award who want to follow in your footsteps
Pursue these steps because Arts Award really opens your mind and makes you think about your artistic direction.

Where can people find out more about your work? 
You can hear my music in the video of Here’s Your Seata project that Skimstone Arts ran during Covid-19 lockdown in summer 2020, reaching out to people to share with others despite social distancing. 

I wrote the music for Time Share (time stamp 14:32) and the piano music for The Fallen (20:15).

Arts Award 15th Birthday!

Arts Award has been supporting the development of creativity and leadership skills for all young people for 15 years. Arts Award has championed creativity, nurtured talent and offered insights into the arts world, together with a taste of creative careers.Across the UK there are over 4,000 centres and an impressive 521,455 Award achieved.

Arts Award alumni news

Read more interviews with Arts Award alumi or visit the Arts Award Voice Community Hub for exclusive alumni updates, support and discounts. If you've recently finished your Arts Award and want to let us know what you're up to, drop Nici the Arts Editor an email


Nici West

Nici West Voice Team

Nici is the an editor for Voice. She loves all things books, theatre, music, art, visiting other countries, anything creative, and sometimes attempts to make YouTube videos. Alongside Voice she writes and edits through her own pursuits.You can occasionally find her running marathons dressed as a black dog.

Recent posts by this author

View more posts by Nici West


Post A Comment

You must be signed in to post a comment. Click here to sign in now

You might also like

Want my job? with Kate Proctor, UK News Lead at Save the Children UK

Want my job? with Kate Proctor, UK News Lead at Save the Children UK

by Voice Magazine

Read now