February 11, 2014

Final blog from Laurence, a fourth-year Drama student at the University of Kent summing up his work placement with People United.

My time with People United is coming to a close and what a time it’s been. While I may not suddenly be the fountain of all knowledge surrounding the running of an arts company after only three weeks, I’m certainly a lot more knowledgeable than I was.

My conclusion? It’s hard work and a lot of it too, involving a lot of computers, phone calls and emails. I think that one of the major reasons for the company’s success is their willingness to outsource talent, with every event that took place in the recent past (that I’ve research thus far), every single one employed an artist from some field or other, some tried and tested with a great deal of repute, with others being local, yet to be completely discovered. The result with both types has been the same: a wonderful and unique piece, whatever artistic form it took. There’s something for everybody as well, being a theatre student, local talent Bright Shadow certainly caught my attention. The duo created and performed their theatre piece Tales from the Chair which bacame Style Awhile during People United’s We All Do Good Things project in Herne Bay. Based on stories collected from hairdressers and their clients, these stories were retold using puppetry, physical theatre and a myriad of other skills. People United’s open attitude to all artistic mediums is one of the most pleasing things I’ve found about them, they’re willing to support all types of artist, based on the merits of their proposals and past projects.

Bright Shadow ‘Tales from the Chair’

There’s a lot to look forward to in the near future as well. With this years artists’ commissions officially having been opened to the general artistic community to apply for, both Manchester and Maidstone can expect great things coming to them later this year. Not only that, but the company’s very successful Living Rooms project is set to continue, with more events yet to take place this year. Bringing together two different experts, from the art, business or scientific worlds a topic surrounding People United’s ethos is discussed. The floor is then opened up to everyone who attends and a larger discussion takes place, leaving everyone who takes part that little more inspired and enlightened on their departure. So, keep a look out for when tickets become available for the next event! I typed up all the feedback the project has received so far while I’ve been here, insider’s tip: almost every participant wrote that it was incredibly good value for money, so get a place while you still can! An evening of food, and intellectual debate is surely something to watch out for?

Living Room Empathy: the monkey and the peanut

As for me, I plan to move back to the Midlands after I graduate, so while I may not be able to come down to every future event, I plan to continue to watch the company’s progress. It’s heart-warming to know, that during the relatively short time I’ve been here, that my research has already been put to good use and some of my ideas implemented. People United are always open to new ideas and that has come across to me daily, whenever I’ve mentioned anything to any member, they’ve always fully engaged me and seriously considered what I have to say. I think that’s a rare thing and I can only imagine how helpful and reassuring it is for any artist who works along side the company, to know that everything they say will be taken to heart.

I’ve felt valued during my time here and I’ve been offered sweets and cake just about everyday! I’m not suggesting they’ve bribed me with sweets and cake by the way, but if anyone out there were considering volunteering for People United, then I’d certainly recommend giving it a go! With that all said and done I’d like to thank every member of People United for having me, I’d also like to thank you for reading this and especially if you’ve read any of my other blogs on here too. I’ve covered quite a few topics, the company’s ethos and goals, why I chose to work here during my placement in the first place, the mysterious inner workings of an arts company, the contentious issue of funding and now, well, this one. Each one has been a pleasure to write, so thank you again for staying with me on this ramble and do keep checking this website and People United’s twitter page for updates on a projects that could be happening near you! Well then, that’s all from me, goodbye everyone!

Laurence Sullivan

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