Giggle’s Artis Story

 

Grace (Giggle) has been an Artis Specialist for over 7 years and is also an Artis Mentor, providing support and guidance to Artis Specialists working in schools across London.

Grace tells us her story about how she became a professional performing artist with a portfolio career as an actor, arts educator and musician.

 

When I was 4, on the top deck of a bus travelling through Birmingham City Centre, I stood up and sang for the passengers.  After completing what I’m convinced was a beautiful and moving rendition of The Wheels on the Bus I turned to my mother and said “Mummy, why aren’t they clapping?”.  I think I was always heading for a career as a performer!

I spent much of my childhood in dance classes, then as a teenager I was heavily involved in amateur dramatics. However, I attended a very traditional academic school and it was always seen as a hobby.  Somehow, I managed to persuade my parents that letting me study drama at university instead of the planned French and business was a great idea, and off I went to Aberystwyth for three life-changing years.

I studied all aspects of theatre, both the academic and practical, and for the first time could honestly say I enjoyed education. Upon graduating I went on to do a postgraduate diploma at Guildford School of Acting and have been working as an actor since 2006.

At any given time, the majority of actors are out of work and the reality is we train to work part time.  Therefore, it’s important, for one’s sanity, to find something you’re happy to do when not acting. After a few years of mainly plugging the gaps with waitressing and bar work I came across a recruitment notice on the Equity Job Information Service; a company looking for trained performing artists to deliver a creative curriculum in schools.

Having played roles with theatre in education companies as well as leading some directing and devising at a local college, I knew I enjoyed working with young people. It sounded like the ideal opportunity to use my existing skills and build up a whole new set at the same time.

In my time with Artis I have had a wealth of opportunities working on some of the most fulfilling and challenging projects of my career.  From ongoing weekly delivery to arts weeks in both SEN and mainstream schools, from working with whole classes and nurture groups to leading INSET training for teachers, my skills as a facilitator and teacher have continued to grow. The CPD provided by Artis is second to none, with several training sessions annually and a mentoring system that fully reflects the ethos of nurturing creativity that we take into schools.

Becoming a mentor myself in the last few years has also significantly improved my practise; whilst observing and helping others to grow you can’t help but reflect on yourself and your own work at the same time.

All this has enabled me to establish a portfolio career in which I use my various transferable skills across several positions.  Over time I began to work as a freelance practitioner with other companies, writing and leading a variety of workshops and projects in primaries, secondaries and the wider community. However, I’d never have had the knowledge or confidence to do this without the training Artis first provided and in turn I bring those things I’ve learnt working for other companies back with me so it all comes full circle.

As an actor, it’s allowed me to relax about having down time between gigs and the opportunity to use my skills as a performer off the stage.

In the future, I hope to continue to write and oversee programmes of work on a variety of topics as well as continue to inspire young people and their educators to teach in a creative way. The performing arts is a fantastic tool for building self-esteem, teamwork and communication skills and all those other soft skills that are vital for our children to flourish, whatever path they choose.

The arts, the stories we tell, need a diversity of voices and experience both on stage and in the audience so most of all I want to carry on working in an inclusive way, with those who wouldn’t have the opportunity to engage with the performing arts otherwise.”

 

You can find out more about our Artis Specialists’ and their journeys here.

15 Feb 2018


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