It’s July 2021 and I’ve had my fourth conversation this month with an aspiring theatre maker who has emailed us at Boundless seeking work experience.
I LOVE having these conversations.
It’s a nugget of joy to break up the intensity of my workday. It is a reminder of why I do what I do and why it is all worth it!
This month however, I’ve heard the following phrase said to me in every single conversation:
“I emailed so many places for months. You’re the only one who ever got back to me.”
Why are we making the process of entering this industry feel like an assault course where only the toughest, most privileged make it through?
It makes my heart sink every single time. I remember being that person, sending out countless emails waiting and hoping that someone would reply and give me a ray of hope that I could make it in this industry. Some, I might emphasise, are specifically funded to support the development of young talent (I won’t name and shame, just making a point). The deafening silence that my emails were met with was devastating. It made me question whether there was even a place for me in the industry. It made me wonder whether I should give up hope and try a different career. I felt completely helpless, I was new to this country and didn’t know anyone in the industry. I didn’t know who or where to turn to.
That was 10 years ago. Why am I hearing the same old story from young theatre makers today?
So many conversations have been had, even since before the pandemic, about the importance of breaking down barriers to access. Why does this impenetrable wall of closed doors still prevail?
Plucking up the courage to ask for work experience is hard enough. The least any of us with influence and position can do is reply. Why are we making the process of entering this industry feel like an assault course where only the toughest, most privileged make it through?
I respect and understand the challenge from the other perspective. If you are going to offer work experience, you want to give that young person the attention and practical experience they deserve. It requires patience, time, care, and attention. It can be a burden among competing priorities and pressures. And sometimes, you just haven’t got the capacity to satisfy the number of requests you receive. I get it. But our industry thrives and survives on waves of new generations of talent. It only takes a generosity of spirit from gatekeepers and people of influence in our industry to make a huge impact. And that generosity doesn’t need to be anything more complicated than a conversation as a minimum.
If you are someone of influence in the industry, make this promise with me to at least be open to having a conversation and be generous with your advice.
If you are a young person, in education and you are interested in work experience, you can get in touch with us by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
At Boundless we promise that we will: