Earlier this month, we welcomed the fifth cohort of graduates as part of the University’s Cultural Intern 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, you can also check out the hashtag #internstagram15 on instagram and twitter, where the interns are trying to post as much as they can! For starters, let’s meet the successful ten:
Ironbridge Gorge Museums Trust
After twenty years spent mainly in mundane employment, in his late thirties Robert decided to radically change his life and go to university. A BA in Modern Languages and History of Art was followed by an MA in Humanities and Art History, both at the University of Leicester.
In March 2015 Robert completed a PhD at the University of Birmingham. His thesis, ‘The Hammer-Beam Roof: Tradition, Innovation and the Carpenter’s Art in Late Medieval England’, was a study of the techniques and art of the engineer of the pre-industrial period – the carpenter – and his ultimate expression: the hammer-beam roof.
Robert is not perhaps the typical ‘academic.’ A lifelong woodworker, following his MA he took practical courses in traditional oak timber-framing and worked as a volunteer on the restoration of a seventeenth-century Suffolk barn. In late 2010 he found employment as a traditional carpenter and spent a year in the craft. He may well still be carpentering now were it not for a recession in the construction industry.
Human innovation, craftsmanship and technology, and how they often transcend pure function to become art, have held an abiding fascination for Robert throughout his studies. Ironbridge and Coalbrookdale have been a hotbed of these attributes, and Robert hopes to turn his enthusiasm and academic skills to, what for him, is a new and exciting field.
Town Hall/ Symphony Hall
I’m Ellie Franklin and I am the Cultural Intern at Town Hall Symphony Hall. I graduated from the University of Birmingham in 2014 with a BA in Classical Literature and Civilisation and recently completed a Masters of Research in Classics, also at Birmingham. I’ve always had a passion for live music and managing events, and during my undergraduate degree I managed the UMS Wind Band in 2013, the Summer Festival of Music Wind Band in 2013 and 2014, and worked for Music for Youth’s National Festival.
Town Hall and Symphony Hall are two internationally renowned concert venues, who provide 8,000 concerts and events every season, alongside a variety of outreach and education programmes. These concerts range from classical to contemporary, popular music to folk and anything beyond. Over my placement I will primarily be working with the marketing department assisting in the creation of a new audience development strategy as THSH look to provide the changing community of Birmingham with diverse programming that reflects what they wants to see. I will also have the opportunity to work with programming and outreach and education in order to ensure cohesiveness across all elements of THSH’s programme. I’m incredibly excited to get started and I can’t wait to learn more.
Shakespeare Birthplace Trust
Hello, my name is Anna and I’m the new cultural intern for the Learning and Education department of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust. I graduated this summer with a degree in English – I loved university and my studies helped me realise that the arts are very important to me! Because of this I have volunteered at arts festivals, mentored another literature student, written about cultural events whilst on placement at a local newspaper, and I regularly contribute music reviews to an online magazine. Volunteering in KS3 English lessons and working as an assistant ballet teacher were the roles I’ve enjoyed most, however, because I liked the challenge of encouraging children to engage with the arts, and it was great to see them have positive cultural experiences.
The SBT’s Learning and Education department helps people of all ages access Shakespeare, his plays, and the Tudor era. One of its campaigns is Shakespeare Week, a celebration for primary schools across the country which aims to give children a good first encounter with the playwright. My role over the internship is to help co-ordinate two projects for the campaign – a virtual tour of the Birthplace, and a live Q and A session. The projects are both brand new so I’m really excited to be a part of something innovative, and to develop different skills at each stage of their development.
As an English grad I feel very lucky to be working at a place which has literature at its centre, and to be given another opportunity try and inspire children to be creative and find enjoyment with the arts. I would love to work on more cultural engagement initiatives in the future, and hope this internship will provide me with loads of experience so I can continue to pursue a career in the arts sector.
I’ve always been intrigued by that nebulous sounding sector “the arts and culture”. I was surrounded by the traditional markers of it as a child: trips to the theatre, visits to museums and galleries, even as far as joining a performing arts company!
I took this experience and interest to University, where I first studied for a BA in History at the University of Birmingham and then an MA in Shakespeare, Stratford-Upon-Avon and the Cultural History of Renaissance England at the Shakespeare Institute. During my time at University I made sure to get the most out of my experience, doing everything from acting as treasurer at the Archery club, to putting together sets for the Guild Musical Theatre Group.
After a stint as a Front of House Assistant at the RSC in Stratford, and as a community fundraiser with the Charity Sense, it became clear to me that a career in the arts was what I was after. However, following this realisation I took a job, not in the arts, but in higher education as a Development Officer for Coventry University, where I furthered my fundraising experience, and then I had a go at marketing, back at my alma mater on a European funded project.
Sampad is a South Asian arts and education organisation that was started in 1990 and is based in the stunning Midlands Arts Centre. They particularly focus on artist development and small scale projects, which of course need a lot of funding! During my time with them I’ll be looking to bring my own experiences of fundraising and marketing to a new challenge, as well as learning from the brilliant team there!
City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra
Hello, I’m Chris Holley and I’m the new intern at the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra (CBSO). I graduated with an undergraduate music degree from the University of Birmingham in 2015 where I majored in orchestral conducting. As part of my course I conducted a world premiere with the University Symphony Orchestra in concert, the University Philharmonic orchestra (including some members of the CBSO) in several rehearsals throughout the year, the New Music Ensemble in concert, and a Bach Cantata with period instruments, chorus and soloists. My final year composition was also performed by the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group (a partner of the CBSO). Outside my course I conducted the UoB Wind Band of around 120 wind and percussion instruments for four terms, worked as a publicity officer for the UoB Music Society, performed in the University Philharmonic Orchestra, Symphony Orchestra, Chamber Orchestra, Brass Band, GMTG pit band, Wind Band, Big Band, as well as small ensemble and solo performances. Through the University alumni scheme I was able to receive mentoring from Simon Halsey, the principal chorus director and founder of the CBSO Chorus.
My interests are varied and include conducting, teaching and outreach work in the arts. My internship is such an exciting opportunity to work across several departments in a local yet international orchestra. Already I have gained experience and insight in the orchestral library work, planning tours, auditions, with the CBSO Youth Orchestra, the CBSO Chorus, managing the orchestra, working with guest artists, fundraising, and in the Learning and Participation team. The time is going fast and I’m looking forward to getting involved with even more!
Birmingham Museums Trust
Hello! I’m Paul Horn, the new Cultural Intern based at Birmingham Museums Trust. I previously completed my BA, MPhil, and PhD in English at the University of Birmingham. During the period in which I completed my doctorate I also explored my growing interest in museums work through volunteering as a gallery assistant at the Barber Institute of Fine Arts and participating in the university’s Engaging with Archives and Heritage scheme. Subsequently, I gained further paid and voluntary experience in the museums sector through front of house work at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery and mac birmingham, and digitisation roles at the British Museum and Shakespeare Birthplace Trust. I have spent the last year in London assisting with a project digitising nineteenth century medical literature with the Internet Archive, based at the Wellcome Trust, whilst also volunteering as a researcher for the exhibition celebrating Harefield Hospital’s centenary.
Working on the Harefield Hospital centenary exhibition opened my eyes to a new way of using my creativity and the writing and research skills I developed through my academic work. My internship is also exhibitions based, so I’m looking forward to the experience of doing this kind of work on a full-time basis. The exhibitions which I will be assisting with the development of include Enchanted Dreams: the Pre-Raphaelite Art of E.R. Hughes and New Art West Midlands. I’m excited about the opportunity to engage with a range of unique artists, collections, and spaces over the next six months, and hope to learn a great deal from the different teams of museum professionals with expert knowledge based at the Trust.
I completed my BA (Hons) English in 2012 having learnt two key things: I was obsessed with narrative and I had a real passion for giving underrepresented or misrepresented groups a voice. In a light bulb moment, I realised I could combine both of these passions by making film so went on to study an MA in Film and Television: Research and Production. During my MA, I spent my free time making videos for local charities and organisations, such as Birmingham’s LGBT centre and St Basil’s youth homelessness charity. I also had the privilege of doing a three month internship at Maverick Television (best known for Embarrassing Bodies!) which really confirmed to me that a career in media was what I wanted to pursue.
After completing my MA, I joined BBC Wales in the role of Diversity Co-ordinator as part of the Extend scheme for disabled talent. Whilst this is a bit of a confusing title, my Line Manager and I were basically responsible for looking across BBC Wales’ output and making sure we were reflecting the breadth of our audience as best as we possibly could. It was an absolutely fantastic start to my career that gave me the opportunity to do lots of things, from community engagement to events management to edit producing.
I’m looking forward to getting to grips with another region of the BBC, building on the experience I gained at BBC Wales and hopefully trying out new areas such as radio!
Birmingham Repertory Theatre
My name is Kirsten and I’m interning as Assistant Producer of On The Edge Festival at Birmingham Repertory Theatre. I began working towards a career in theatre before University, acting as a board member for a Manchester based youth theatre company for whom I directed shows and organised summer schools. At University I studied Drama and French, participated in Guild drama as both a performer and director, took part in a sponsored hitchhike to Slovenia and held the role of Social Secretary for The UoB Linguist magazine. Following my first year I worked at YMCA Camp Mohawk in Connecticut as Head of Drama. I also went on to study in France at the Université de Nantes, volunteer with children’s and women’s organisations in Morocco and attend a Marketing conference at the Warsaw School of Economics. In my final year I volunteered with Fierce Festival, acted as Production Assistant on The Witches at the Crescent Theatre, directed the first amateur production of Anna Longaretti’s Sex Cells and supported Meighan Youth Theatre by taking responsibility for their social media marketing. Once exams were over I began working as Assistant Producer on the transfer of four shows from 24/7 Theatre Festival in Manchester to Shiny New Theatre Festival in Liverpool. I also had an amazing time working as Box Office Supervisor for TheSpaceUK at Edinburgh Fringe 2015. I graduated in July with First Class Honours and I’m incredibly excited that my first full time job will be at the wonderful Birmingham Rep. I will be working alongside Thomas Wildish on On The Edge Festival, a prestigious international festival of theatre for young audiences and the annual artistic gathering of ASSITEJ. This is a fantastic opportunity to learn, network and build up my skills in a high profile and internationally respected theatre on a globally recognised project.
Flatpack Film Festival
Flatpack Film Festival is more than just a festival of film in Birmingham. It is a carefully and creatively curated programme of events, screenings, installations and more. As the festival approaches its tenth year, I am the very excited new marketing intern!
I have been striving to gain as much experience in the arts sector as possible for the last five years, since completing my degree in History of Art with Museum Studies at the University of Leeds. I have worked at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery as a Visitor Services Assistant for three years, which gave me the opportunity to learn a lot about varied art collections as well as other institutions and organisations in Birmingham. It also helped me fund my MA in Art History at the University of Birmingham.
As part of my MA in Birmingham I co-curated an exhibition at the Barber Institute in collaboration with the National Portrait Gallery. I also worked as Exhibitions Assistant at Research and Cultural Collections and was a key part of a team that organises a varied programme of exhibitions and events. I am interested in how works of art are interpreted and displayed for different audiences, and given Flatpack’s innovative and varied methods of display, I am very excited to be a part of the team.