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  • Writer's pictureMoving Parts Arts

A stepping stone to working in the arts

Laura Firby, our Festival Producer Intern for 2021, reflects on her experience working with Moving Parts Arts to deliver Tyne Rising.

Firstly I would I like to thank Andrew and Charlotte Dixon and the Community Foundation for making the internship possible. And a big thank you to all the Moving Parts Arts team that I worked with on ‘Tyne Rising’. I was so grateful and excited when I received the news that I would be taking on the role as the Festival Producer Intern - not only to work on an exciting project but also integrate myself more in the arts scene in the North East.

A white woman dressed in Elizabethan attire performs a cabaret act, dramatically crying into a handkerchief
Laura had previously worked as a cabaret performer and events producer before working with Moving Parts Arts

At the start of this journey I was coming from a background of arts, performing, producing and teaching based mostly in Northern Ireland. Coming to a new area and starting on a more focused career path I wanted to make sure I took on a job that would not only advance my career but offer the opportunity to learn and develop. Another important factor for me was that I would be part of team where I could work with and meet new people and start to create connections here in the North East. This is exactly what happened during this internship.

A smiling white woman with brown hair holds up a yellow and white material bag with an orange ribbon which she has just sewn
Laura put her sewing skills to us to create a protective bag for the Giant Squid puppet

From the early stages of getting to know the project and my colleagues I felt very welcomed and supported. A lot of the initial admin, promoting and logistics tasks were done working remotely from home but we had weekly team meetings where I would learn about producing before being given tasks to work on throughout week. This was a very manageable workload and allowed me to work independently and gain confidence in the admin side of producing an event. Having that support during the internship meant I knew I could always ask questions, for help, support or just to learn more.

As we grew closer to the event it was wonderful to be in Newcastle, meet the artists and everyone face to face and see the workshop space at Northern Stage. Learning how to support the artists, work with the production manager and ensure the production of the piece went smoothly was very insightful. Being hands on and involved in every step of the process made me feel very included and that were I to work on another similar project I would be able to go in more confident in my knowledge and skills. During this time it was also a great experience to work closely with the producer and they really allowed me to be part of the process which I think is valuable on an internship, to be treated as part of the team and not just an assistant floating in the background only observing.

Participants and artists work together in the Northern Stage workshop to build masks and puppets out of cardboard and clay
Participants and artists busy working in the Northern Stage workshop

The actual week of the show was different to projects I have worked on before. I had never worked on an outdoor event and learning to navigate health and safety, Covid restrictions and the weather was all very interesting. I genuinely felt useful being hands on with the setting up of the site and communicating with the artists and relaying information between the production team and artists. I really enjoyed the fast pace and intensity of this work and never felt like I was given jobs beyond my capabilities.

Four smiling production team members celebrate that the sun has come out under a tent in a field.
The festival team relieved to see the sun poking through the clouds on day 2 of Tyne Rising

The final reward was of course seeing the show come to life. To see the volunteers that had worked so hard performing in the show with the puppets they had made. To hear the music created especially for the piece and to hear it played live. The joy and happiness that came from the audience members that had come to watch the piece. It really did all come together and the piece was a stunning success.

Lots of performers walk across a green field holding orange flags. In the background a giant yellow sunflower and giant blue moon puppet stand.
Tyne Rising comes to life

Of course there were bumps along the way, the weather being one of them. But these things were an important part of the learning process for me, how to handle issues and problem solve. I learned from the Producer how to think and analysis possibilities before rushing to make decisions and how to communicate with a whole team to keep everyone on the same track. These are skills I think that are very important in producing events and I feel that this experience gave me the opportunity to learn so much.

A white woman with pink hair and an explorers hat comically addressed a camera in the foreground with a cliff face in the background
Laura was also able to put some of her other talents into action, such as performing in the Puppet School TV episode 6

Having some knowledge of events and the arts was for me very useful. It meant I was able to build on my existing knowledge but also put them into a completely new context. For me personally it was also a step up to work on a project of this scale and to work in a very professional arts environment. I was able to see how the different branches of producing, production manager, artists and marketing have to work together to bring something of this scale together. I met a lot of wonderful and talented people that really encouraged and inspired me for future roles I may now be able to get thank to my internship with Moving Parts Arts.

The 2021 Festival Producing Internship was made possible thanks to a grant from Andrew and Charlotte Dixon, managed through the Community Foundation Tyne & Wear and Northumberland. Thank you for supporting us to support Laura!

Find out more about the Community Foundation and their work by clicking here.

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