BA Fine Art student Annette Warner looks back on her time as an Arts Ambassador, and how it has shaped her understanding in the fields advocating the arts.
In reflecting on the last 6 months as an Arts Ambassador, the broad range of skills I have gained in this short time seems endless. It has provided me the invaluable experience of co-managing social media platforms and allowed me to consider how best to promote events in their best light to audiences that would most benefit from them. In saying this, I felt I truly had a responsibility to make the arts as accessible as possible both across campuses and around the city. This excited me in ways where I considered myself as more than just a student intern, but an important member of a team.
A highlight of my experience, which has only been made possible through the Arts Ambassadors role provided by the University’s Excel Internship scheme, has been the ability to attend the Creative Industries Federation Summit 2018, a current and influential talk held in London. In this event, I got first-hand experience from listening to creatives at the top of their field discussing the issues arising in our changing society, an opportunity I would never have had without the Internship. Through this, I was not only the face representing the University, but I gained a priceless opportunity to network amongst the UK’s top Creatives. I even bumped into some local friends at Solent Creatives. This was an exciting opportunity as an emerging artist to directly experience the crucial issues facing the Creative Industries currently and have since found great importance in keeping networks close within the City of Southampton and of course Winchester.
A massive benefit from the experience was having the change to meet the many arts professionals within the close community of Southampton and gain insight into the opportunities available for young artists to pursue a creative career in the South. Meeting some exceptional and inspiring people through networking opportunities provided as an Arts Ambassador who locally work hard to strengthen the Arts community has hence encouraged me to seriously consider the post-graduate opportunities provided in the city to help with these efforts. I found that throughout my time as an Arts Ambassador at Winchester School of Art, I was in an important position where I could voice the interests of Winchester art students directly to Highfield and could transfer information across campuses to heighten the awareness of what is available locally in the arts.
I feel privileged to have worked with people within the Arts Ambassadors team that I clicked well with from parts of the University that I would never have bumped into on the WSA Campus. Because the role is within the University, the balance was always struck between providing us the exciting challenges to push our skills yet allowing us time for our studies also, a consideration that makes the internship accessible for all years. In providing us project opportunities we learned quickly how to section off tasks needed within certain timeframes. The ‘Behind the Curtain’ Interview series was Arts Ambassadors led, and we were encouraged the freedom to manage ourselves and each other in the most efficient way for the content to make the best impact. This project was time-crucial and pushed us to overcome obstacles and re-organise when issues arise. This positive flexible outlook is a key skill I took away from the project and aim to maintain in my work-ethic walking away from the internship.
For anyone passionate about pursuing a career in the arts, this internship is an invaluable opportunity. My experience as an Arts Ambassador has allowed me to gain such a broad range of skills from desk-based administrative work to being out in the field of events like Freshers and WSA Careers Week promoting the arts. It has allowed me easy access to converse with people already immersed in the arts and who share the same passions as I do. Because the field of the arts is so varied, this internship is brilliant for allowing yourself to understand where your interests really lie, and the steps needed to be taken to get there. The skills gained will be incredibly beneficial for future employment. Being an Arts Ambassador has allowed me to keep my eyes peeled for any opportunity to make the most of what is in front of me, a skill that will be vital in this exciting point close to graduation.
Arts Ambassadors is a paid opportunity, supported by the Careers and Employability Service’s Excel Southampton Internship programme, University of Southampton