Informal Chat at the Arts Council HQ (Blog 1)

I thoroughly enjoyed my first meeting with my mentor, Alan Davey. It was great to finally meet him and we had a very informal chat at Arts Council HQ in London. I had a cup of tea, Alan just had water. At the time of our meeting, I was in the grips of a funding application for my Masters, and Alan was able to give me some very useful, reassuring advice about postgraduate study, as well as asking me why I was applying, what for, and where. I won’t bore you with those details here, but I really appreciated being able to talk things over with Alan, who pursued multiple postgraduate studies himself.

We also talked about Radio 3, because in January Alan will become the station’s controller. I had read a lot about his plans for the station, and even heard him on the Today programme, so I had a fair few questions to ask about the job. I had been enthused to read Alan’s assertion that ‘If you do complex culture properly, it makes sense to people,’ and he reiterated this, but I didn’t want to spend the entire meeting quoting things he’d said back at him. Conversation turned to the Mercury Music Prize, which was awarded a few days later to Young Fathers. I thought Kate Tempest was a sure-fire winner, Alan was far more discreet and didn’t name his favourite nominee, but did say he was sorry he’d had to turn down his invitation to the ceremony. I was very jealous. Kate Tempest’s name also came up in our discussions of poetry. I write and perform a lot of my own poems and wanted to talk to Alan about the spoken word poetry scene in the U.K. To my delight, Alan told me he frequents a poetry night in Camden called Out-spoken, where he has seen some really interesting fusions of music and poetry performed. I told him about my own upcoming performances, and we’ve agreed to talk more about this in our next meeting.

Alan has also agreed to the thankless task of editing my CV, which was in need of a bit of attention. I have been chopping and changing it ever since I was applying for jobs in my gap year and, over time, it has become a bit difficult to know what’s worth including and what isn’t. My Mum recently suggested I remove the mention of my Grade 2 singing exam, received when I was eight years old. I took her advice, begrudgingly, and look forward to hearing what Alan has to say.

My main intention with this first meeting was to get to know Alan and, with conversation ranging from saxophones to Nick Clegg, I feel I at least made a start! It was an informal, informative session and I am eagerly awaiting our next meeting in December.

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