Since my last post on Disability Arts Online (DAO) last October, things have progressed far beyond anything I could have imagined. Since you’re reading this, you might have already noticed the publicity surrounding Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra’s (the BSO) Change Makers project and that I am now training there to develop my conducting. This is the first of many blog entries about my time with the BSO…
It all started last April when Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra called for expressions of interest from disabled artists with whom to apply to the Arts Council’s Change Makers fund. At the time, I was busy preparing the Conducting Development Week, and I kept umming and erring as to whether I had enough time and energy to respond to the BSO’s call. The call for expressions of interest repeatedly appeared in various newsletters and websites, such as DAO, almost as if it was asking me for a response.
Luckily, I took note of the frequency and gingerly e-mailed in my cover letter and CV into the BSO on 10th April 2016 with a proposal for a tailored conducting traineeship. The decision to respond was one of the best decisions I have made yet. I was invited to an interview via Skype with a panel of three to discuss a more focussed idea around which the traineeship may be framed; based on a previous project concept I was researching a few years ago. The interview was a success, leading to the BSO and I making a successful funding bid to the Change Makers fund. On 28th September, the Arts Council granted the funding, and I started my traineeship on 1st June. Details can be found on the BSO Change Makers page.
Over the last few weeks since my start date, meeting the many lovely people at the BSO has been my main priority and will continue to do so for the sheer number of different roles within the company. This has been a part of my induction process during which I continue to get a feeling of the internal culture and the inner workings of the BSO. Knowing about the breadth of roles and workloads is proving useful for developing my role and way(s) of working in the best way possible with others.
As part of my induction process, I was obligated(!) to participate in a team building exercise at the gelato bar situated opposite the Lighthouse in Poole, in which the BSO is based. Obviously, this was one of the more stressful tasks I’ve done as a part of my role at the BSO so far, but with a bit of teamwork, we got through it! Choosing the right flavour from the vast selection of different ice creams and sorbets was hard work, a dilemma which I shared with my new colleagues. Through this shared experience, we all sought validation and comfort from each other!
Another highlight of my starting at the BSO was my slanting desk! During the first week of having my electric height adjustable desk, one of my colleagues came in the morning only to find my desk being lop-sided! Somebody obviously decided to have some fun and frolics with the height adjustment feature; affixing the left-side leg at a height whilst continuing to lower the right-hand-side. This created a slanted feel to the area surrounding the desk, bringing memories of James’ family home from Tim Burton’s rendition of James and the Giant Peach to the fore. Whoever created this slanted effect did so with such diligence and accuracy, achieving a gradient large enough for it to be noticeable whilst still maintaining a degree of “levelness” for my PC and monitor to stay safely upon the surface of the desk.
So, whoever you are – Slanty Desk Person – I take my hat off to you! I genuinely mean that for it provided an extra talking point which I took full advantage of as I broke the ice with the many people I met that day. I felt sorry for my assistant that day who repeated everything I said because I lost count of how many times I said the phrase “…it adds character” whilst remarking on the desk during conversations with different people.
The slanty desk situation was rectified a week later with full credit to the operations and IT people at the BSO who, like everyone else here, work hard to work as effectively as possible to get things done.
I am now sinking my teeth into my role and feel as if I have landed something quite special! My team is really nice and excited about what is to come. My attention is now turning to converting the project’s work plan into reality, and to start this journey into uncharted territory. I look forward to keeping you updated!