Rhiannon Lewis and Dan Varley (both year 2) are Turner Sims Interns for 2015, with responsibility for the Southampton Showcase scheme for advanced performers. Here they tell us about their first semester in the job:
What interested you in applying for the intern post?
Rhiannon: Arts management is something that has always interested me but I felt my knowledge on the profession was limited. I decided to apply for the Turner Sims internships to broaden my understanding of the arts industry and what it involves. At 19 years old I had no idea what I wanted to do in the future and I thought that this internship would provide me with new experiences and skills. As a performer I was particularly interested to see what goes on behind the scenes and how a performance is taken from the drawing board to a live concert and I believed the internship would let me experience that. Now 20 years old and half way through my internship the idea of careers in orchestral and concert management have already crossed my mind.
Dan: Very similar to Rhiannon in the sense that I really didn’t know what I wanted to do when I finished my music degree, so applied for the internship to see what kind of jobs happen behind the scenes of arts management. I think many music students that don’t want to follow the traditional performance/composition/academic routes of a degree often don’t know what they might do when they are thrust into the real world, so I couldn’t not apply for this.
What were your first tasks?
Rhiannon: Our first tasks were quite daunting. Dan and I didn’t particularly know each other and immediately we were thrown together as two interns who had to work together on a project. A lot of information was thrown at us during our handover from the previous interns and all I seem to remember is a massive list of things to do and passwords to remember. Our first concert in Turner Sims took place on the 2nd February and we must have double-checked everything with each other. Dan definitely saved me some stress by being amazing at the lighting desk so I focused more on the programme and the running of the concert, such as using the backstage phone. I would like to apologise to Louise for the millions of questions we asked her! That first concert was very successful and we had a little high five and a cheer when it was over.
Dan: The idea of hosting a concert in the Turner Sims was quite a daunting one to Rhiannon and me. We had a lot of help from the music office and it seemed to run pretty smoothly. We had to organise the set list, liaising with the performers to make sure the timings would work. Technical setup is not an area I am very familiar with, so to learn what needs to happen for a polished performance was really helpful. Like Rhiannon said, I took responsibility for the lighting desk, which was quite a fun job.
Were there any things you didn’t expect? Any particular challenges?
Rhiannon: This is a particularly difficult question as it was all quite new to me. I guess we have more of a leadership role than I imagined because we are running concerts and advising performers as well as trying to meet their requests. However, the biggest challenge for me is the website! Technology isn’t always my strongest point and trying to build a website is a lot harder than I thought, especially when you are waiting for information off other people in order to progress. The website is still no where near what we want it to be but hopefully by the time we have completed our internship we will have reached our goal. Obviously, trying to tackle an internship against a degree is a challenge for anyone!
Dan: I would totally agree with Rhiannon, the website has been the hardest challenge. We were given quite a basic yet functioning template and given the task of making it look professional too. We have both had loads of ideas, but actually translating them onto a webpage has been really hard. Thankfully we have had lots of help from all over the university that has been really helpful. The whole process has been a bit of a learning curve, so I have really learnt to expect the unexpected.
What are your current projects with the Showcase scheme, and what are your plans?
Rhiannon: Our biggest project at the moment is getting the website up and running and to a professional standard. We have the ideas, it’s just getting the process going which is tough. This is something we will both be working on over the summer. Also we need to maintain the use of our twitter and Facebook pages as well as booking performers for gigs and events. We have recently collaborated with Catherine Underhill to provide a photoshoot for our performers where they can have headshots and live pictures of themselves for the website and their own profiles. We are working towards professional recordings of our performers so that they have actual material they can use to promote themselves. All these little projects are to enable us to reach our goal of launching our website in October, in Turner Sims to the rest of the music department and the community. It is scary to think about now as we have a lot of work and preparation to do before we are able to present our website but hopefully we will get there!
Dan: Before we finish in January next year, we would really like to have completed the website facelift, have performer profiles that have lots of information and launch the scheme to the new year group in September. I think because the internship is on going, it is all about building as much as you can on the previous interns and leaving it in a position so next years successful applicants can build on it too. Oh, and I would really like to host a great launch party for the website with a lot of guests that will hopefully hire our musicians!