Cultural Graduate Scheme 2014 – meet the cohort!

This morning we welcomed the fourth cohort of graduates as part of the University’s Cultural Graduate Scheme. Ten exceptional University of Birmingham graduates will spend the next six months with one of ten leading cultural organisations in the West Midlands in a bid to kick start their careers in the cultural sector.

You’ll be able to follow their placements here on the blog but for starters, let’s meet the successful ten:

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Lynette Dakin

Lynette Dakin
The Rep 

Hello! My name is Lynette Dakin and I’m the new cultural intern for the Learning and Participation Department at Birmingham REP theatre. I graduated from the University of Birmingham this year with a degree in English Language and Drama. Alongside my studies I have sought work experience within the cultural sector – I volunteered for the REP, working on their REP100 scheme; undertook a placement at BBC Birmingham; and volunteered with Birmingham Hippodrome and several arts festivals, mainly in front of house roles, to gain arts event experience. More recently, I spent this summer working in the front of house department at the Pleasance Theatre in Edinburgh during the Fringe festival.

This internship is within the Learning and Participation department at The Rep and I hope to enhance my skills in events management and exhibition co-ordination. Some of the first events I will work on include a Lantern making workshop and a Halloween make-up workshop for children over the October half term. I will also be developing the Adult Engagement scheme at the REP – this is a relatively new venture and the ambition is to build a series of events which engage adults with theatre, it will also involve taking theatre to other areas of Birmingham. I had my first taster of what the internship will entail this weekend when I joined the team to assist in the fun palace weekend. We had a murder mystery performance, a sensory trail, several science stalls (courtesy of the University of Birmingham) and craft stalls. It was a huge amount of fun and gave me a glimpse into the next 6 months of work!

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Marie Giraud

Marie Giraud
BBC Birmingham

Unintentionally, I have always strived to observe the BBC’s moto wherever I have worked. “Educate, inspire and entertain”. As I began my Masters in the History of Art in 2012, I took up a voluntary post at a unique National Trust property. Quarry Bank Mill is one of the only surviving 18th century mill communities in Europe and plays the backdrop to C4’s bleak period drama The Mill. Along with another intern, I organised school bookings for our popular educational tours, set up family workshops in the school holidays and created additional material to add to our interpretation bank. My main challenge was ensuring that all the information I provided was fun, easy to understand and related to the schools’ national curriculum.

I then volunteered as a team leader for Digbeth Speaks, a Heritage Lottery Funded project that captured a sense of what one of Birmingham’s neighbourhoods is like today. The team did this through recording interviews and sound bites with members of the community at various events in the area and, finally these were part of an exhibition open to the public at the Custard Factory that even made prime time news. This year, I completed my academic studies alongside a marketing internship at the Barber Institute of Fine Arts which gave me real creative freedom to put on exciting events for the University’s student audience.

I feel that the placement at BBC Birmingham will enable me to put all of my previous experience to use and allow me to focus on engaging with local communities through workshops, partnership building or broadcasting. Essentially, I have always wanted to communicate new ways of seeing and thinking to a range of people in a different and exciting manner.

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Alex Hewitt

Alex Hewitt
Shakespeare Birthplace Trust

Hello, my name is Alex Hewitt and I am the new Cultural Intern for Shakespeare’s Birthplace Trust. I graduated from the University of Birmingham with degree in History and Political Science just over a year ago and have recently completed an MA in Renaissance, Reformation and Early Modern Studies (I am nervously awaiting my results!). I have some prior experience in the arts and heritage sector, having worked at Edinburgh Fringe Festival and volunteered at Shakespeare’s Birthplace Trust as a student. I have always loved anything to do with history – books, museums, films, antiques – I used to drive my family mad with my love of the Tudors! However, my ambition to work in heritage developed whilst studying for a masters, during which time I encountered a variety of historical objects and began to consider what they might tell us about the past.

This is something I hope to explore further during my time with Shakespeare’s Birthplace Trust. I will be working with the Collections and Interpretations teams on a range of exciting new exhibitions. Anne Hathaway’s Cottage, Mary Arden’s Farm and New Place include some of the properties owned by the Trust that are the focus of exciting new projects for 2015-16; all of which as Cultural Intern I am thrilled to be involved with.

From this internship I hope to gain an understanding of how an organisation such as the Trust runs as a business and tourist attraction, however I am most interested in observing how the SBT brings History and Shakespeare in particular to life through its objects and properties.

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Charlotte Horobin
Town Hall/ Symphony Hall

I recently completed an MA in Shakespeare and Creativity at the Shakespeare Institute, Stratford upon Avon. Being an entirely new course created for 2013-14, I didn’t know what to expect. I was literally a guinea pig. What resulted was a fantastic year of responding creatively to Shakespeare’s life, work, and legacy with an exceptionally talented group of six other students.

Our backgrounds were varied: academics, actors, artists, authors, composers, directors, musicians, playwrights, poets. Ultimately we all shared a passion for Shakespeare. Two pieces of original devised performance pieces were created, incorporating a multitude of art forms. We became our own theatre ensemble, all taking different roles within this company. It was through managing the publicity and design aspects that I realised I had an interest in arts marketing. I then became involved with the publicity for the Sixteenth Annual British Graduate Shakespeare Conference, implicating marketing email campaigns and helping managing the Facebook and Twitter accounts, using the latter to live tweet the plenary talks. I also became involved with publicity for Derby Shakespeare Theatre Company through the promotion of upcoming productions at events across Derbyshire and the creation of trailers for the productions. I have spent the last six months as an intern in the marketing department at the Royal Shakespeare Company, and it is in this environment where my skills and understanding of marketing within an arts organisation have truly developed.

I am looking forward to further enhancing these skills as Cultural Intern for Birmingham Town Hall/Symphony Hall within their marketing and communications department, and hoping to increase my relatively small knowledge of everything musical.

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Chloe Lund
Birmingham Opera Company

I studied History of Art at the University of Birmingham and graduated in 2013. I then received the Universitas 21 Museums and Collections Award, which enabled me to spend one month at the University of Melbourne, exploring my interests in cultural engagement and research. Upon returning, I obtained part time jobs at the RBSA (Royal Birmingham Society of Artists) Gallery and the University of Birmingham’s Research and Cultural Collections, building on previous volunteer roles at both. Generally, I was working on exhibitions, events and research which focused on the visual arts.

I am excited to start working at the Birmingham Opera Company because their work embodies many of my beliefs about the social responsibility art. I have long admired their innovative productions for their ability to communicate with diverse audiences about challenging and important issues. The internship will be a fantastic opportunity to learn how this can be achieved on an ambituous scale and through the medium of opera, which I have never worked in before!

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Oli McCall
Flatpack Film Festival

I’m Oli and this morning, as winter arrived with a vengeance, I joined 9 other soggy interns at Winterbourne House for the start of the Cultural Internship Scheme 2014!

Following a BA in English and History and an MA in History of Art at the University of Birmingham my initial work experience in the arts related broadly to my research interests in early modern British history and Elizabethan portraiture. I spent time working at the Barber Institute of Fine Arts, gaining exhibitions and collections management experience, and then interned with the 16th century collection at the National Portrait Gallery, where I assisted curators with the major exhibition Elizabeth I and Her People.

I’m passionate about art and the arts in Birmingham. I volunteered for the HLF funded project Digbeth Speaks and I work as visual arts writer for a local arts and culture website, Polaroids and Polar Bears.

I’m thrilled to be interning with Flatpack Film Festival. Flatpack is a wonderful Birmingham-based festival with an international reputation and over the last few years I’ve enjoyed loads of Flatpack events, from multisensory 3D parties to Sci-Fi on an epic scale. During my placement I’ll mainly be assisting the Flatpack team with marketing and events. I’m keen to build on my arts marketing experience and learn as much as I can about what it takes to stage a successful festival.

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Dave Richardson
Sampad

Hi. I’m Dave Richardson and will be working with Sampad as part of the University of Birmingham’s Cultural Intern Scheme. I have previously been helping Sampad with research as part of their My Route project, and am therefore familiar with the organisation – they are a great team, friendly, hardworking and dynamic; hopefully I meet at least one or two of those criteria. I have just (finally) completed my PhD in contemporary history, on postwar movements for and against European integration. Helping with My Route was therefore interesting and challenging in the sense that I got to look into the local history of Sparkbrook and Hall Green and people’s memories and recollections of the area, rather than the minutes and pamphlets of angry Eurosceptic splinter groups. The Cultural Intern Scheme will allow me to continue this work with Sampad and delve a bit deeper into the workings of the organisation – I hope to learn more about the business side of the sector, including project and event management, marketing, networking, finance and everything else that falls within the day-to-day operations of Sampad. I’m hoping this scheme will help me to develop a number of skills outside the bubble of academia – it will certainly make a change from slaving over Word documents and double-checking footnotes…

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Ruth Sanderson

Ruth Sanderson
CBSO

My name is Ruth and I will be interning for the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, working in orchestral management. I graduated in July with a BA in Music and Mathematics Joint Honours. I have decided to leave the maths behind (phew) and concentrate on working in music. I am applying for postgraduate study at music college for 2015, focussing on my main instrument, violin. Throughout my 3 years as an undergraduate I have been involved with the CBSO – as a violinist in the CBSO Youth Orchestra and also singing with the CBSO under John Wilson in January 2014. I regularly take advantage of £5 standby tickets and have been to many CBSO concerts over the last few years. From the internship I hope to gain experience in all parts of managing a professional symphony orchestra, which will equip me for a career in the arts.

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Laura Simcox

Laura Simcox
Ironbridge Gorge Museums Trust

Hi, I’m Laura, this years Cultural Intern for the Ironbridge Gorge Museums Trust. I’ll be working as Project Assistant for the redevelopment of the Museum of Iron in Coalbrookdale, involving a complete internal refurbishment of the exhibition space and relocation of the cafe. An ambitious project with lots of variety, providing me with a breadth of experience and skills in exhibitions, learning, marketing, funding and events.

My background is similarly varied. Following an interest in art and design I decided upon a degree in Archaeology and Ancient History, quite far removed from painting and sketching! After that I volunteered as an archaeologist and worked as a supply teacher (unfortunately continuing my university job of selling shoes to pay the bills). In the following March I landed my first job in heritage as a Visitor Services Assistant at the beautiful Blakesley Hall and Aston Hall, historic homes in the Birmingham Museums Trust. Since then I have continued in this role at BMAG and Thinktank Science Museum and volunteered at Erasmus Darwin’s House in Lichfield as a Marketing Assistant.

A year ago I began an MA in Museum Studies and I had my first National Trust membership last Christmas to round it all off. So as you can imagine it’s been hard work but definitely worth it to be sat here today. Now for Ironbridge and its many challenges, and I couldn’t be more excited.

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Josephine Wall

Josephine Wall
Birmingham Museums Trust

Hello blog readers! I’m Josephine Wall and I’m one of this year’s Cultural Interns, placed with Birmingham Museums Trust at the Museum Collections Centre. I’ve been a student at the University of Birmingham since 2008, starting out with a BSc in Geology and Archaeology. Although I enjoyed both disciplines, my undergraduate dissertation about the landscape archaeology of Pere Lachaise cemetery in Paris, sparked opportunities for further study. I began an MPhil in Archaeological Practice but soon realised that my aim to compare the development of 19th century French cemeteries with British ones was going to take more than the 20,000 words for a masters thesis, and upgraded to PhD. My PhD is part-time so by the time I finish my studies at Birmingham I will have probably been here a decade! I deserve a medal right?

The PhD is also self-funded, so I’ve been working throughout. For the first two years I was working as a web assistant and volunteering with heritage organisations including working with the Moseley Society Local History Group and doing research for the Coffin Works. Getting involved with these projects helped give me the necessary experience to get employed in the heritage sector! I’ve been working for Birmingham Museums Trust since April this year, initially as a visitor services assistant at Aston Hall and Sarehole Mill and more recently at Thinktank, Birmingham Science Museum as well. Although largely public facing these roles have given me a glimpse of what happens behind the scenes, with regard to collections care and I’m really excited about being immersed in that side of things at MCC!

I’ve been to the Museum Collections Centre in the past on tours and it closely resembles the warehouse in Indiana Jones – absolutely full of incredible artefacts arranged on shelves as far as the eye can see. I can’t wait to really explore! I’m going to be involved with care of the collections and documentation, especially of the botany collection – I hope a green-thumb isn’t required! I’ll be doing conservation cleaning (bring on the white gloves) and pest monitoring – checking to see which insects are finding their way onto the sticky traps and if any of them could damage the collections. Hopefully we won’t catch too many friendly ones like spiders by mistake! I’ll also be involved with our open days and social media. I can’t wait to show people around the treasure trove- very few museum storage facilities are open to the public, so it’s a really amazing opportunity. Why don’t you pop in on the last Friday afternoon of the month (every month except December)? Hope to see you there!

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Tune in next week to hear more about Josephine’s first week at the Museums Collections Centre.

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