From parent to Arts Award adviser with Michelle Sewell

Michelle first got involved with Arts Award by supporting an after-school dance club to help a friend out, and soon grew into the role of Arts Award adviser. 

From parent to Arts Award adviser with Michelle Sewell

Hi Michelle! Please introduce yourself to the reader.

Hi, I’m Michelle, wife to Mark and mum to our 11-year-old daughter. I live in a house that Mark and I have significantly renovated and run our own business as small-scale property developers. A few years ago, I was asked by a friend if I could help to support an after-school dance club by offering the Arts Award to supplement the club’s activities. The club has since grown to over 70 members and my role has developed too. 

What does your job involve? Give us the typical outline of a day?

As mentioned, I run my own business alongside my husband, developing properties, its relatively small but keeps me busy a few days a week. With the remainder of my time I work to support the running of a dance and arts after-school club, acting as an Arts Award adviser to a group of around 30 children aged 8-11. I provide admin support to the club’s owner by managing all payments, consent forms, new registrations, policy documentation and managing trips. The club also provides activities in the school holidays. And, recently I’ve been asked to support the schools offering of Arts Award Discover.

What’s great about your job?

Working with children is a great pleasure, they have heaps of enthusiasm and are so inquisitive. I am allowed a lot of creativity within my classes and the holiday clubs; I love working on large projects pulling together lots of the children’s work. 

What are the bits you don’t like or find challenging?

Our club is based around fun and enjoyment but there is also an element of discipline required so that all children can take part and feel included and safe. As I do not have a teaching background, I do find this a challenge and continually look at ways to maintain cohesion amongst the group.

What are the highlights of your career to date?

I think being asked to produce an Arts Award programme for all Year 3’s at my daughters’ primary school. That was special for me.

What was your career path into this job? Have you also worked outside the arts?

Prior to working for the after-school club I worked for many years as a Project Manager for a large financial services company. I took voluntary redundancy when my daughter was 2 years old, and then started our property development business when she started school. Through my daughters’ school I met Vanessa, the owner of the after-school dance club. Vanessa provided me the amazing opportunity to support her club which has allowed me to do what I am now. 

Can you describe your biggest challenge so far in your career? How did you overcome it?

I think my biggest challenge would be my confidence. It’s important to show the children that I work with that they are capable, so I’ve had to confront my own self confidence fears to get to a position of trust which allows me to support them.

You’ve been granted the ability to send a message to 16-year-old you. What do you say?

I’m not sure my 16-year-old self would have listened to this but I would want to impress upon her the importance of trying hard in everything you do and being open to new challenges; even if they feel impossible at the outset.  Be persistent and stay determined and you’ll always know you’ve done your best. I can hear her saying ‘Yeah, whatever’!

Do you have any advice for young people interested in doing your kind of job?

I would always advice people, of any age, to do something which they enjoy. Sometimes it’s necessary to do a certain job but always keep in mind what you love doing and make continual steps to fulfil your aim.

Check out more interviews with arts professionals and Arts Award alumni here


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.

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