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Megan Hamber on her Weston Jerwood Creative Bursary

Wed 3 October 2018
Megan Hamber - Weston Jerwood Creative Bursary - Avignon Festival 2018

Eight months into my role as Creative Projects Assistant (Producing) at Yorkshire Dance I thought it would be a great time to reflect on my experiences and learning so far.

My role is part of the Weston Jerwood Creative Bursary programme, a scheme that supports arts organisations to hire from a diverse background of recent graduates, focusing on talent development. Alongside my work with Yorkshire Dance, the programme offers development opportunities for all participants that ground our on-the-job experience with valuable training as well as seeding a strong peer network. This has included an inspiring visit to Avignon Arts Festival with insightful meet-ups and conversations with some of the presenting artists and festival director Olivier Py.

On our first welcoming event, I and the other 40 participants who are based in arts organisations across the UK, were told in multiple speeches how we were the ‘Future Leaders of the Arts’… No pressure there, then!

As I spend more time with my cohort at our training events and experience the development opportunities that Yorkshire Dance is offering me, I realise it’s perhaps not so strange to think that, among the brilliant individuals I’ve met on the programme, there are most definitely some ‘Future Leaders’ and that all of us will go further than we had thought possible within our artistic careers. None of which would have been possible without Weston Jerwood and forward-thinking arts organisations such as Yorkshire Dance.

Now onto why Yorkshire Dance has been the perfect fit for me. The company is involved in delivering a plethora of interesting projects and programmes. I have been fortunate to work on several of these, such as supporting exciting new work by hugely talented dance artists as part of the Dance Partner projects, facilitating practical exchange around important topics during Artist Exchange Days, partnering on the delivery of the ambitious national Surf the Wave project to create a step change in how the UK showcases dance, the European project Performing Gender with its wonderful European partners across 5 countries and our newest instalment of mini-festivals, each with a different theme, Encounters.

It is hard to pick what I have enjoyed working on the most as my work has been varied and always interesting. The artist development side of the job has been very exciting and I have been able to attend sharings and one-to-one artist support conversations on an almost weekly basis. It has taught me a lot about artists’ needs and I feel very privileged to have an insight into their ongoing work and offer feedback and advice.

I have enjoyed helping with the logistics and delivery of events and performances – some of my favourites being Performing Gender and Encounters. How often is it that you get to work on exciting projects which enable you to learn and debate feminism and gender on a daily basis? I really have landed on my feet!

That said, the amount of learning I have had over the past 8 months would not have been as productive and possible if it had not been for the team behind Yorkshire Dance. It has been a pleasure to work with such forward-thinking people, who have been both nurturing and supportive to me. I will be eternally grateful for the time and effort that has been put into my professional development and I am pleased to say that my contract has been extended for another year. I have learnt so much from the Yorkshire Dance team and look forward to carrying on my work within this fantastic organisation.

The Weston Jerwood Creative Bursaries 2017-19 programme is designed and managed by Jerwood Charitable Foundation in partnership with the British Council. It has been made possible through the combined support of Arts Council England’s Ambition for Excellence Fund, Garfield Weston Foundation, Jerwood Charitable Foundation, CHK Charities Limited and PRS Foundation.

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