Thanks to funding from Birmingham City Council, we were able to employ two trainee producers to work within Sampad’s outreach work. Anaya and Michelle, who started with us in May, are now coming to the end of their placement. We spoke to them about their time with Sampad.
What were the highlights and key achievements of your time as trainee producers?
Michelle: I was really impressed that Sampad was flexible enough to appoint us both and I felt that Anaya and I played to each other’s strengths. The age difference between Anaya and myself seemed to be a strength rather than a barrier to our time with the project.
Anaya: Working at Sampad as a Trainee Creative Producer enabled me to push myself out of my comfort zone. I worked closely with the amazing team and learnt so much.
Michelle: There were many highlights in this short stint as a trainee creative producer, however, I particularly enjoyed all aspects of the BEDLAM Festival, from engaging with the participants at Chelmsley Wood, to visiting the exhibition featuring the work of Sampad participants at MAC. Although I spent a very short period with the participants from Chelmsley Wood, they very quickly ‘got under my skin’ – it was clear that attending the workshops was the highlight of their week and essential for their mental health and wellbeing.
Anaya: I had the opportunity to help coordinate artists to lead some Creative Wellbeing workshops as part of the BEDLAM festival, for a group who attended through referral from their healthcare coordinators. In these sessions, the participants would be able to socialise whilst interacting with a new art-form each week; it was a chance for them to break their routines and get out of the house and focus on improving their mental health. It was insightful to experience the workshops from the organisers perspective, as previously I’d only had experience as an artist. I gained confidence in my ability to network and work with people outside of my regular art community. It helped me to form new connections and it also helped to connect new artists to Sampad.
What lasting impact do you feel your placement has had?
Anaya: I have gained so much from this role. Working in this new environment has provided me with structure and confidence that I want to implement in all my work. I can also understand how to structure and work in a team more efficiently.
Seeing others experience positive emotions in response to something I have helped to set up has inspired me to pursue roles like this in the future. The team has been so supportive in my learning and development, they have all helped me understand every aspect of my role.
Michelle: I will continue to develop my skills as a mental health and wellbeing practitioner. I will complete the Birmingham Rep’s Foundry course and I hope to deliver 12 CPD sessions to teachers about using the arts to support mental health and wellbeing. Having attended the BEDLAM festival, I feel more confident about doing this.
I would also like to continue developing the ‘producer’ side of things as I know I have good organisational skills and ‘make things happen.’ I hope to get involved in any short-term projects as these materialise.
I have applied to the Arts Council for a ‘Develop Your Creative Practice’ grant. If I were to get this, I would use the money for some additional training around mental health and wellbeing, I would also offer workshops to organisations – such as Sampad – for free, whilst ‘establishing’ myself as a practitioner in this field. I believe that both Sampad (and Birmingham Repertory Theatre) have given me the insights, confidence and contacts to move forward in these areas of work.