This is a talk given by Elly Hudson, assistant producer intern at Bedford Creative Arts at Bedford Cultural Education Partnership event on May 24 2016 at The University of Bedfordshire. Elly related her experiences of the arts in school and how the arts have shaped her choices and her future. Elly’s experience highlights how important the access to arts and culture in school is for young people.
Here I stand as a 23 year old woman, an Assistant Producer intern at Bedford Creative Arts, with a dual degree in Fine Art & Illustration.
But I want to tell you all about how I got to be from a 15 year old who hardly spoke out in lessons, and shied away from conversations with those I did not know, to standing here as a confident young woman with an Arts background.
At 15 I was studying at Mark Rutherford School, and taking Fine Art, Music, History and French as my choices for GCSE’s, along with additional GCSE’s in Biology and Chemistry.
I was so intimidated by everyone, be it peers or teachers, and conversations with others terrified me. I reverted to only speaking when spoken to, and poured all my time into reading books. I couldn’t find my niche, I wasn’t funny, I wasn’t overly clever, I wasn’t sporty. I looked at my GCSE choices, and decided to put all my attention into Art and Music.
I felt I could be myself in these subjects, I could lose myself in a large scale painting, or when writing my own composition. These pieces of work I produced began to let others know who I was, rather than my words or lack thereof. I began to communicate through my work; what colour schemes I liked, what keys of melody I preferred… little things that add up. And my confidence in myself grew as I explored further into these subjects.
With the help of a teacher who noticed my rapid increase in work production, but my lack of participation in group discussions in Art class, we had a lot of one sided conversations where he encouraged me to attend one on one sessions after school.
I found a way to have a conversation and express myself without having to speak. My confidence flourished, I smiled a lot more and spoke up more in classes, and all my efforts paid off and I got exceedingly good grades.
I became the Arty one. I took part in every opportunity offered to me; I partook in the Music Tour for 2 years, and the school musical and drama club. I was a member of the choir, the string group, I made a band with other GCSE music students. I painted a segment in a collaborative large scale portrait of Nelson Mandala for his 90th birthday. I was in the Gifted and Talented group for my artistic merit, rather than my academic skills.
After receiving so much encouragement from my peers, teachers and parents after getting my results, I realised my dream… To help to create gorgeous things for people to experience for the rest of my life. In order to pursue my dream, I chose Fine Art, Photography, History and English Literature for my A Level subjects.
I struggled through the 2 years of sixth form, being misunderstood for my career choices and wondering whether there was any point in working so hard if there was ‘no job at the end of it all’. I was told one of two things at my school’s career day after having a discussion about wanting to go into the creative industry: ‘You can either become an artist, which never happens, or be an Art Teacher.’
My Art and Photography teachers encouraged me to apply to Foundation Art courses as my confidence was so fragile, and to look into full degrees that would be best for my skillset. I stayed in the Art Studios from 8 in the morning until 5:30 at night, only leaving for other lessons and compulsory assemblies. I ignored people telling me I was wasting my academic skills pursuing a creative career, and used that energy only to make more of a voice in my work.
After graduating, I applied to over 150 arts-related jobs in Bedfordshire, Cambridge and London, varying from Gallery Assistant to Junior Designer, and landed a job as an Art Assistant at a local Middle School… this verified very quickly that I was not built to be an Art Teacher… However, I did enjoy sharing my creative skills with the children, and watch them progress in their ability.
And when I saw the opportunity to work for a local Non-Profit Organisation as an Assistant Producer Intern – something so rare – I had to take the chance and apply. I am working predominantly under the Culture Challenge, an online directory of local cultural providers, getting artists into schools, and getting young people access to cultural experiences. Since I joined the ranks at Bedford Creative Arts my confidence is at an all-time high, I am mingling and networking with creatives and building relationships with members inside schools.
Without the unbelievable support I received at school, I wouldn’t have moulded my life and my confidence into a fiercely fighting force of creativity. I am proud of the journey and the town that has shaped me into the confident young creative woman that you see standing before you today.