January 14, 2014

One of the major joys of working for any arts company is seeing its inner workings. Usually, the public only see the results of the toil and we’re treated to advertising posters a few weeks in advance of their latest project. The reality though, behind the mysterious scenes, is seemingly limitless phone calls, bureaucracy and emails. I’ve always liked to imagine an arts company as a number of artists sat around a white board and throwing up various imaginative ideas, all while wearing loose-fitting flowing robes, but they actually run like any other industry with the same level of precision. In fact, in some ways, it’s probably harder, because the creative has to be combined with the business side. The results of months of labour though, are the projects we love so much, all with the aim of making us a friendlier and closer community.

Linked with this, I’ve been archiving the company’s ancient relics, that is to say, the various bits and bobs from their old projects. There’s something quite wonderful about reading through the oldest of the projects, seeing the seeds of what made People United what it is today and how that grew from humble beginnings. I think it’s brilliant that the first projects were based in schools and how that still holds true today, with almost all of their current projects involving schools in some way. The ethos too, has stayed constant throughout, the events and art may now reach more people, but the effect is just as it was in those early days – people are much more likely to perform a random act of kindness after attending a People United event.

Speaking, well, typing about events. I’ve also been helping ready the company for their Artists’ Commissions 2014. Each year, People United open the floodgates to UK-based artists who collaborate with some incredible people, all to make some form of art relating to the themes, this year, of ‘role-models’ with Lunsford Primary School in Kent and ‘wonder’ at the Manchester Museum. Going back to my previous paragraph, the project taking place here in Kent with primary school children confirms People United’s belief that if you can show children the wonders of living in a kind community, you can convert them to it for life. I hope you’ll agree that these commissions sound extremely exciting, both for us to see what they come up with and for the artists themselves, because of the level of artistic freedom they’ll have. The themes can be developed however they desire and so seeing how the projects flow and progress- as well as seeing the end result, will certainly be something to watch out for! I’m certainly excited about it!

Laurence Sullivan
Fourth-year Drama student at the University of Kent

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