Kate Jackson - learning something new everyday

News Kate Jackson - learning something new everyday

6th March 2012

Kate Jackson started her post as Programme and Marketing Assistant here at DanceXchange in 2011 as part of the DCMS Jerwood Creative Bursaries Scheme. Here she tells us all about her experience...

One way or another I have always had an interest in the arts. As a child it emerged in the form of building ‘Spice Eggs’ (as in the Spice Girls) complete with outfits, headsets and stage as an alternative to the traditional Easter Bonnet, to creating full on jungle installations in my garden for my Barbies to explore (they had crashed in the jungle you see). Using anything from bits of wood and stones and to my mum’s dismay, her beautifully tended plants. Then later as a teenager during my first work experience at a community arts organisation, I discovered my love for photography.

One year ago, having graduated with a BA in Photography I didn’t see myself where I am now.

Programme and Marketing Assistant? Whats that?

Dance you say? No way, I can’t do that!

But here I am, one year on, and I’m loving it.

My interest in dance came about through my photography, I spent my entire third year at university photographing community dance groups. My initial interest was the people and the sense of community, but I fell in love with the dance, from photographing the traditional waltz at a tea dance, to street dancers performing in front of thousands of football fans at (my) local team West Bromwich Albion's ground 'The Hawthorns'. At first it wasn’t the dance necessarily, but the enjoyment I could see the performers were getting from it.

So when I saw the advertisement for the role of Programme and Marketing Assistant here at Dancexchange as part of the DCMS Jerwood Creative Bursaries Scheme, I thought why not? I’ve got plenty of experience in the arts industry, and I now have an avid interest in dance, it won’t hurt to apply. I didn’t dream that I’d get the job and actually be GOOD at it!

To sum up my year, I have experienced countless weird and wonderful dance performances in our own performance seasons, from disabled dance artists, to scary clowns, to the highly amusing, to the emotional, to interactive children's performances. Got sent to Edinburgh with the Programme Manager, Paul Burns for the Fringe Festival.  where we saw an epic 12 dance performances in one day, went for pizza to shelter from the persistent rain showers, and hung out with lots of nice people, including 2Faced Dance Company who were premiering their latest performance ‘In the Dust’ which was to come DanceXchange’s Autumn 2011 Season after Fringe (I have now seen it 6 times and would recommend it!). Paul was an impeccable guide to Edinburgh, teaching me about the city (history as well as the best place to go for coffee), all whilst guiding me through my first experience of Fringe Festival. As well as seeing work across the country, I have seen amazing crossover circus dance work, men dancing in tiny gold shorts, interactive physical theatre to mention just a few. I have had the opportunity to work with some amazing companies, dancers and choreographers, not to mention my lovely colleagues here at DanceXchange.

I have written contracts, booked flights & accommodation, processed visas & FEU, completed risk assessments and so on. Things I didn’t have a clue about prior to the post I’m now well versed in. I’ve had a go at writing marketing copy, written programmes for our performances, delved into and reorganised our print archives (including some lovely word art esque materials from 2000).

I have assisted our Marketing Manager, Abby Corfan, in the redesign of our brand, the website, brochures, print and attended ‘tweet meets’ with her. I have also worked on our stall at Arts Fest where I spent most of my time chasing print (it was windy) and my lunch watching the football, just to mix it up.

I've learnt some technical terms and what they are, I now know what a ‘gobo’ is for example.

I’ve managed and run performances in our theatre, running around the building pretending to be a spy on the radio (James Bond theme tune playing repeatedly in my head), whilst making sure it all happens (and when it’s supposed to), briefing front of house and box office, I’ve even had a member of the audience throw up on my new shoes. There is plenty more but it would take me an age (and no doubt bore you) to explain everything that encompasses my role.

I can tell you something I haven’t done yet and that’s dance on a doormat, but no doubt will be required to before our project ‘Home’ is out....

With all that and more I’ve certainly gained a lot of important skills and got a wide variety of experience under my belt in the past year and I’m still learning every day. I even managed to fit in a trip to Vietnam and Cambodia (non work related), a photography project and that’s before mentioning discovering and finding my feet in the vast world of contemporary dance, it’s been a whirlwind to say the least.

Now as we approach International Dance Festival Birmingham 2012 my contract has been extended and I have taken up the position of Programme Assistant, working across the different Festival venues, Family Weekend and our outdoor events. It’s certainly an exciting time and I can’t wait, getting to enjoy a month of dance as well as working in different venues and with different people; it is all a valuable experience. Tiring, no doubt about that, sometimes it feels you live at work, but certainly worth the long days and late nights. During the Festival you are likely to find me dressed in a red IDFB hoody, headset radio attached, milling about (or not) at Birmingham Hippodrome, the Town Hall and Victoria Square or pinning clouds to the ceiling during Family Weekend at mac.

Post Festival my contract with DanceXchange has been made permanent and I’m excited to be staying on and taking on new responsibilities within my role. I’d like to think I’ve brought something different to the organisation (other than freshly baked goods on a Monday morning) and hope to continue to do so. DanceXchange have been incredibly supportive in my professional development, and that's something that has and will continue to be invaluable to me and my future in the arts.Can’t complete an entry about my first year without mentioning Paul and Abby who I work with closest, they have both guided me through this first year and been wonderfully encouraging and supportive as well as fun to work with, I have gained (and will continue to do so) a lot of knowledge from them both, and without being a part of their team my experience and how I have developed may have been very different.

I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up, but if it wasn’t for this role and for the scheme that enabled it I know I wouldn’t be where I am now, and right now I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. Except maybe Brazil. What can I say, I like to travel.
 

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At DanceXchange our aim is to bring dance to more people in Birmingham and the West Midlands region, through performances, productions, classes and community outreach.

As we look to our long term future, we want to continue this work and we want to keep dance alive in the region. As a registered charity, we receive core funding from Arts Council England and Birmingham City Council, along with a range of trusts and foundations.
 

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For more information, please contact Katie Scott, Development Manager on 0121 689 1082.