My second mentoring session took place on campus as Alan had business in Birmingham that day. I found it a lot easier to talk to him this time as I had already gotten the nerves of the first introduction out the way. As the first session was more about getting to know me and what career I wanted to pursue, this meeting was more about beginning to organise specific actions I would need to take to get me heading in the right direction.
After the tense waiting game that is the highly anticipated first email, things actually felt real. That for my final year of University, I would be mentored by Alan Davey, previous head of Arts Council England and now the controller of BBC Radio 3. I was eager to get the ball rolling, so we arranged for me to come down to London for a face-to-face meeting at Broadcasting House.
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. Continue reading
April – I updated Alan on the meetings that I had been to since our last meeting – I had a couple more in March at the Birmingham Rep and with the Director of a young people’s theatre company called Fevered Sleep, which is based at the Young Vic. I had also had the opportunity to do some shadowing at the Royal Shakespeare Company (an opening that came out of my February meeting there), which was just fantastic. I am very grateful for these introductions and for Alan’s continued support with job applications. As I said before, the great thing about this scheme and the opportunities that arise from it is that you are not out to gain anything except advice, which people (or at least everyone I’ve met!) are happy to give.
February – Since my January meeting with Alan I had been to meet the Director of Education at the Royal Shakespeare Company and the Director of Arts Connect West Midlands, which is one of the Arts Council Bridge organisations.
January – My third meeting with Alan was a New Year catch up and re-assessment of my career objectives. He has been brilliant in terms of getting back to me with application feedback and has also said that he is happy for me to put him down as a referee if needed which is great.
December – I arranged the second meeting a few days after the first via email. It’s good to have a date in the diary not only because the mentors have busy schedules but also because it gives you a deadline to aim towards (for example, Alan had recommended some organisations to read up on which I made sure I did before we met again).
Having turned up over an hour early to my first meeting with Alan Davey, I found a nearby Costa and sat down with a cup of tea. I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect but I had come prepared with a notebook in which I had written my personal ambitions for the upcoming year and specific objectives for what I wanted to get out of the Alumni Leadership Mentoring Programme (ALMP). I used the time to read over these objectives and re-read Alan’s biography on the Arts Council website as well as familiarising myself with the Arts Council mission statement and recent news.
I first found out about the Alumni Mentoring scheme after an email was sent around our department as my second year began to draw to a close, I was already thinking/worrying about what kind of relevant work experience I needed and saw this as a perfect opportunity to get in contact with industry professionals and start to understand the business I was about to enter. So I applied… At this moment in time I wasn’t even sure what I wanted to do when I left university I just knew I wanted to be involved in theatre. The Mentoring scheme isn’t just for those who have their career mapped out for them; it is also for those students who just need some friendly help and advice! And so the application process began (not as scary as it sounds) and at the beginning of my third year I was informed that I had been successful!
There are several ways I could frame the experience of being mentored by Alan Davey (Chief Executive Arts Council England): the meetings we’ve had, the performances we’ve seen, the people I’ve met with or through him, the music we’ve introduced one another too.
A good place to start is, rather than the beginning, is a concert we attended recently: Birmingham Symphony Hall, CBSO conducted by Andris Nelsons ‘Tristan und Isolde’ (all three Acts). It was my third time at the Opera, so I didn’t know very much what to expect (I’d listened to a bit of a CD recording that Alan had bought me for preparation). It was absolutely magnificent. Walking home down Broad Street afterwards, I kept hearing bass clarinets in car motors, or top string sections seeping out of clubs- no lie. I was also thinking about someone we’d met, Sir Brian McMaster (who formerly ran the Edinburgh International Festival) and a list that I’d excitedly scribbled on the back of an envelope- a list of ‘really really good’ theatre directors, a plan for shows I needed to catch.