In our fourth episode of Unravel the Arts we talk to Amy Aylward and Sophie Hobson from Shout Out for the Arts.
About Episode #4
Your presenters Ava and Harshil dive deep into Shout Out for the Arts itself by interviewing the adults driving our programme forward. They talk to Amy Aylward from Shout Out for the Arts and Sophie Hobson from Royal Shakespeare Company about how they work with young people as part of this project.
How to listen
Who is in this podcast?
In this episode you will hear the voices of your hosts, Ava and Harshil, as well as Danny, our Podcast Producer, and, of course, Amy and Sophie from Shout Out for the Arts.
Behind the scenes photos
Photos from our podcast recording which took place at The Other Place, Royal Shakespeare Company, Stratford-upon-Avon.
Full episode transcript
[Amy Aylward] And then with those same children I went back to the school, that was just before the summer holidays and I went back to the school just after the summer holidays when they were in year 6 and I met up with two of them and their teacher and we sat round a table and they went what it’s actually happening? And I’m like yeah this is actually going to happen.
And it was just like that look of wow, wonderment, they couldn’t believe that their idea that they had come up with was actually going to be a thing. And that was a great moment.
[Harshil] Hello and welcome to Unravel the Arts.
[Ava] I’m Ava.
[H] And I’m Harshil.
[A] And we are members of Shout Out for the Arts.
[H] Shout Out for the Arts is a group of young people and organisations. Their aim is to give children and the younger generation in Warwickshire a voice to shout out for access to arts and culture. We are proud to present our very own podcast series – Unravel the Arts.
[A] On today’s episode we meet up with Amy Aylward Programme Manager at Shout Out for the Arts and Sophie Hobson Learning Programme Manager at the RSC in Stratford-upon-Avon.
[H] But Sophie couldn’t be here unfortunately.
[A] That’s OK, at Shout Out we believe in flexible working solutions so Sophie has recorded some answers to our questions.
[H] You’ll hear from her a little later in the show.
[A] First up it’s Amy.
[A] Hi I’m Ava you must be Harshil.
[H] Yeah I’m Harshil, how were you at school today?
[A] It was OK, how about you?
[H] It was fine.
Hi you must be Amy
[Amy Aylward] Hi you must be Harshil and Ava.
[AA] Come in out of the cold.
[A] So Harshil you like looking to get into like the Shout Out for the Arts?
[H] Yeah, I was looking for quite a long time, through the Scouts or something in the arts. I’ve got both of them so now I’m in the Scouts and Shout Out for the Arts.
[AA] Are you? You’re a busy lad then.
[AA] Are you busy in the evenings after school? Yeah.
[A] Yeah and in school to be quite honest.
[AA] We were lucky to find a slot for you too. I think we were, I think we were.
Hello my name’s Amy Aylward and I’m Programme Manager for Shout Out for the Arts Warwickshire.
[H] How are you doing today?
[A] I’m doing really good, how about you?
[H] I’m doing really good too. Hope you had a good day at school. What was your most interesting subject you did?
[A] Probably Science although it was quite normal.
[H] Oh that was probably expected. What did you have for lunch today?
[A] I had a ham sandwich and a brownie. How about you?
[H] I had a cheese sandwich and a chocolate bar that was really nice. What is your favourite superhero?
[A] It’s probably going to have to be Black Widow cause she’s a strong female character with an origin story.
[H] Nice. Hi Amy can you please tell us about Shout Out for the Arts and your role in it?
[AA] Hi Harshil, it’s really nice to see you. Yes, so Shout Out for the Arts is the name of the Cultural Education Partnership in Warwickshire. And there’s lots of Cultural Education Partnerships around the country and Shout Out for the Arts is the name that young people involved in it decided to give it.
And my role in Shout Out for the Arts is to be Programme Manager. And that kinda sounds quite grand but actually it’s not that grand. It just means I have to organise who does what, where, when. Although I say who does what, actually it’s led by the young people. So it’s the young people who are telling me what they want to happen in Shout Out for the Arts.
[A] So Amy, do you have another job or is this your main one?
[AA] I do have another job, I do have another job. Good question. So I also I work for Heritage and Culture Warwickshire and I get to run school trips in the museums in Warwick. So it’s a fantastic thing, I get to tell stories and have fun and dress up. And that’s my other job and it was through doing that that I heard about this role in Shout Out for the Arts, which I thought sounded super exciting.
[H] Why and how did you think of starting Shout Out for the Arts in Warwickshire?
[AA] OK, so disclaimer I didn’t, I wasn’t around when Shout Out for the Arts started. I’ve only been involved in it for about 7 months I think now. So Shout Out for the Arts started before the pandemic and it got going just before I think at the end of 2019.
And Sophie Hobson from the RSC who is really involved in starting it as well as my boss who works at Heritage and Culture Warwickshire, people from Compton Verney and Motionhouse. And they all got together. I think there was a fire involved like they sat around a fire one day and decided it would be a good idea. Not quite sure how, that might be a sort of myth I don’t know. But anyway, so they decided they would get together and make this brilliant partnership to get young people in Warwickshire. To give them more access to the arts in Warwickshire and to get people connected in Warwickshire as well.
[H] Interesting story.
[A] So, what does a typical day at both of your jobs look like?
[AA] Oh my goodness, OK. So, typical day for Shout Out first, I might be working from home quite a bit. Quite a lot of emails to do. I might be going and working with young people in our Arts Ambassadors. I might be organising careers fairs, that’s what we’ve got coming up. So I might be meeting artists online or in person to find out how they can support the careers fairs that we’ve got coming up.
Might be doing things like putting data into Excel spreadsheets is another thing I’ve been doing today actually. It’s not exciting. But it’s interesting. And just you know that’s about it actually. If anything else comes to mind I’ll let you know.
My other job, so if I’m working at the museum for Heritage and Culture Warwickshire I will be getting up, I’ll be following, the schools will be coming in for a particular day trip so it might be a Romans day. So I’ll be telling a story all about the Romans and we do this technique called narrative immersion and all the children are involved in like a drama all about the Romans. Which I facilitate throughout the day and we use all the and we get all the artefacts out as well. And that’s a really fun day, so that takes up the whole day. And usually after I’ve had a stint at the museum I like I need to go home and lie down for a little bit.
So I try and keep my museum days separate from my Shout Out days.
[H] Sounds interesting. So can you please tell us what Shout Out for the Arts aims for the future?
[AA] OK. So in the future I believe that Shout Out for the Arts wants to keep going to keep connecting young people where they’re educated to the arts that’s on offer in Warwickshire. And they want young people to be at the heart of decision making about that process as well.
There is stuff I’d love to be able to share with you about the future of Shout Out for the Arts. The contract for it ends at the end of March this year and we are in conversations at the moment about what’s happening next, so watch this space is all I can say.
[A] Could you describe to us your job in only three words?
That’s impossible! OK no let’s, I have to think about that. Ava, that is a question I need some thinking time first for. That’s really hard.
[A] OK. How about both of your jobs?
[AA] What so three words for both jobs?
[AA] Not three words for each job?
[A] Oh no three words for each job.
[AA] Three words for each job.
[A] Six words in total.
[AA] Ok so Shout Out for the Arts; varied, fun, creative. Actually I get to be creative in that role. I really do, but also creative is one of the words I want to use for my other job as well, because we get to be creative within the delivery of our little workshops that we do.
So creative is one for there as well, interesting. I do one workshop at a quarry where we go for fossil hunts. I get to do cool stuff sometimes, and honestly it’s like flying when I’m there in the quarry. It’s like my favourite place, so like flying but that’s two words. I don’t know, I just love it so much in the quarry.
[H] Amy how many young people do you think are inspired by your work to do things in the arts.
[AA] OK, so through the Shout Out for the Arts so far, this since I’ve been working for them, this year we have done a few different bits and pieces. So young people have been involved in different ways. One of the things we have done is lead Arts Ambassador workshops.
So I’ve been round to six different, well four schools which were two primary, two secondary, a youth group in Rugby and a further education college; Moreton Morrell College. And I worked with the pupils at the Gatherum Centre there.
And so I have been round to those educational places and we’ve done some Arts Ambassador training and they get to figure out what the arts are and how they can be ambassadors for it in their place. And then they get to say, they basically get funding to do an arts event. It might be an arts event, it might be facilitating creation of something else.
So one school is doing a mural, another school is making they’re play scripting little plays and taking them out to the primary schools. Another school is holding an arts festival in February which is very exciting. And another school is updating their arts space, where they want to hold a lunchtime art club. Another and Moreton Morrell is holding, is doing an exhibition to include photography. And the youth group is having a series of workshops, like six workshops and then they’re going to go to a gallery event all about gender identity.
So they’ve got. Each of those different schools and places has decided for themselves what they want to do. So it wasn’t my idea and it wasn’t their teacher’s ideas, it was their ideas. And that’s really the heart of what Shout Out is all about, it’s about the young people calling the shots.
[A] In contrast, what was your dream job as a child?
[AA] Ava your questions are so hard. OK so when I was very young I think I wanted to be a lawyer, but I didn’t really know much about anything. I think that’s maybe, I don’t know. And then I think I wanted to be, I don’t really remember Ava. That’s terrible isn’t it? I cannot, I don’t know. What else did I want to do? It’s such a long time ago Ava. It’s all in the dim distant past.
I then went to teacher training when I was in my mid 20s and ended up being a primary school teacher. That’s where I started out but I didn’t want to be a primary school teacher when I was a child. I really liked primary school, I really loved primary school, which is why I ended up being a primary school teacher.
[H] How many people are associated with Shout Out for the Arts and how did you recruit them?
[AA] So, do you mean young people Harshil or the partners or anybody we’ve had?
[AA] Oh wow. So I remembered your last question was the different parts of Shout Out for the Arts was all about and I only talked about the Arts Ambassadors. So we’ve also done roadshow events to further education colleges. We have got these careers fairs that I’ve mentioned coming up. Nuneaton on 20th February and Stratford on 23rd February. And we’ve also been training up young people to sit on the boards of arts organisations. Do you know like how big organisations have a board, you know members of the board.
[AA] And you always think members of the board are quite, like stuffy and they don’t have much to do with what’s on the ground. So, what we’ve thought what was a really good idea is young people came and sat on those boards and their voices were heard as well. So we teamed up with Upstarts Projects and we ran a training day for them in December. And now we’re pairing up those young people with different boards. So we’ve got some people going to, sitting on Compton Verney’s board, Warwickshire Open Studios board, Arts in the Park. So there’s been different things.
So as in how many people are involved in it, there’s all the kids like 150 different kids from the Arts Ambassadors, 100s at the roadshows I probably came into contact. 21 young people trained up on the training day. We had, that’s all the young people, hopefully lots of people are going to come to the arts careers fairs.
We’ve also got all our partners as well involved. So Compton Verney, Motionhouse, RSC, Heritage and Culture Warwickshire, Warwickshire Music Hub, libraries. So they’re all involved in Shout Out as well. So yeah there’s quite a lot of people I’ve got on my contacts list.
[A] If you could choose the next movement that Shout Out would make, what would it be?
[AA] Right really interesting question and like I’ve just said about watch this space for what our next moves might be. But we’ve learnt lots over the course of doing this project over the last few months. And part of it is that when Shout Out started, it started with one group of young people and then for whatever reason those people move on or find other things to do and then we went into schools and worked with other groups of young people. And those young people wanted to do different things than those first groups of young people wanted to do.
So we listened, cause that’s what we do at Shout Out, we listen to the young people and I’ve worked with those young people. So it became really obvious to us that young people want something that’s relevant for them in their place. And they need to see that happening and it needs to be, yeah, more local to what’s actually going on around them.
So Warwickshire is a really hard county to work around because you’ve got North Warwickshire and Nuneaton which is, you know, an hour’s drive away and parts of it are really rural and parts of it are quite urban. So it’s a really mixed and varied place and I think it would be a great idea to try and work more closely in local areas of Warwickshire.
And I would like to open up what we can do to more young people and I’m really interested to find out how we improve getting young people to work with us as well and stick with us, cause that’s really important too.
[A] What skills do you think your job has taught you?
[AA] OK. Massively, how to meet people online, I didn’t do that before. I’m like really used to face to face meeting people and so yeah networking. Massive networking skills. I’ve increased, which has been really good. Organisational skills, recording, reporting whilst it’s happening. Rather than doing it later on when you need it. And keeping on top of all my information and being organised about that, so yeah good question Ava, that’s a really good question.
[A] To throw a curve in the road, what soft skills do you think it has taught you e.g. like perseverance and things like that?
[AA] Oh, that’s a really good question. OK, so yeah honestly Ava I think it has taught me to have a bit more confidence in myself actually. Because this is a really new thing for me to do, in terms of my own career and my own personal development. And I think it has, yeah, taught me to have a little bit more confidence in myself and what can be achieved if you put your mind to something. So, that’s a biggie for me. Perseverance comes into that I guess, but yeah self belief is a big one, definitely. Good question.
[A] What do you think your younger self would think of you right now?
[AA] OK, blimey I didn’t think you’d get into that! Probably. Wow I didn’t think that would happen. Couldn’t see that happening. Yeah, yeah I’ve done a few jobs in my time actually and yeah surprised. Is the answer, is the short answer.
[A] What was one of the best moments you’ve ever had in your job?
[AA] In Shout Out for the Arts?
[AA] OK I can answer that one really easily actually. That’s not a hard question Ava. The rest of them have been super hard, this one I really feel like I can answer. It was at an Arts Ambassador training workshop, it was linked to events actually. So it was at the workshop and the young people were in four groups and they were deciding what arts event they wanted to have with their little bit of funding. And one group had decided on a festival, another group had decided they wanted an IT arts club. Another group decided they wanted to put on a performance. And what happened, it was so brilliant, they all decided to sort of, all the different parts of this puzzle all suddenly got swept up together and they all worked together to come up with the Arts 4 All, All 4 Arts fair.
And that was decided in that two hour training and they already got the inklings for that idea and they built it in that slot. And it was just amazing to watch and it was amazing to listen to the young people say yeah we want, you know it’s really important that everyone has the chance to express who they are. And that was really important for them in this arts festival.
And that was really humbling, and then with those same children, I went back to the school that was just before the summer holidays and I went back to the school just after the summer holidays when they were in year 6 and I met up with two of them and their teacher and we sat round a table and they went what it’s actually happening? And I’m like yeah this is actually going to happen.
And it was just like that look of wow wonderment, they couldn’t believe that their idea that they had come up with was actually going to be a thing. And that was a great moment.
[H] Lastly can you please explain if someone would like to join the arts, how can they join?
[AA] Fantastic question Harshil. So if you’re interested and you want to know more, and you want to get involved in arts in Warwickshire and have an impact on how the arts can work in Warwickshire and work in your place please please get in touch by emailing wcep at rsc dot org dot uk or go to our website the amazing shout out for the arts dot co dot uk.
Where you’ll see everything on there, there’s loads of blogs about all the different Arts Ambassadors schools, there’s events and pages about the careers fairs. There’s absolutely tons of stuff. The amazing Beccy Givens at RG Arts has built the website, and she has done a really good job. And actually the youth board had a hand in what the website looks like. So designing the logo, choosing the colour scheme for the website. All of that was decided at youth board meetings, so really do go have a look at the website.
[A] Thank you very much.
[AA] Thank you very much for asking me such brilliant questions and hard questions. That was so hard!
[H] Thanks so much Amy, over to you Sophie.
[Sophie Hobson] Hi, my name’s Sophie Hobson. I am the learning programme manager at the Royal Shakespeare Company. Now part of my job as the learning programme manager is to deliver something called Shout Out for the Arts Warwickshire. Now this is a youth-led Cultural Education Partnership, or what other people call a CEP. This is the first youth-led CEP in the whole of the country. There’s lots and lots of different CEPs all over the country, in lots and lots of different counties, about 100, 150 all in all. As I said this is the first youth-led one.
Now the RSC were approached by our bridge organisation which is called Arts Connect West Midlands. And Arts Connect West Midlands wanted us to bring together lots and lots of different people from across the county, including arts organisations, heritage organisations, schools, young people.
So we did that back in 2019 and we did it and we had a huge turn out and what was decided from that very first meeting, where we had lots of people discussing lots of different topics around lots of different tables. That this Warwickshire CEP was going to be the first youth-led one in the country and the first of its kind. That was really really significant and really really important.
What then happened was then the pandemic hit, which meant we had to stall a little bit cause a lot of staff ended up being on furlough, which meant they didn’t come into work anymore. And lots of schools, obviously everything went online. So, we lost lots of connections with school and we lost lots of connections with young people as well.
So we stalled for a little bit and then back in about 2020, 2021 we started to ramp it up again. I came on board at that point and we pulled together all of the young people and all of the organisations that we had worked with before and we decided to create a name which is Shout Out for the Arts Warwickshire. We created a logo which you can see all on our website about the process that went behind that logo and created a strapline and a mission statement. Again which you can all see on the website.
So, what does a typical day at my job look like?
Well as I explained I’m the learning programme manager at the Royal Shakespeare Company, so it’s really difficult to say what a typical day involves. Part of my job is to make sure that all of the plays in the Royal Shakespeare theatre, just one theatre when it’s open and The Other Place, which is where we’re recording this now. All of the plays are accessible to education young audiences.
So, I run a series of workshops around those plays which happen on any Shakespeare play any day. Because a lot of the plays obviously at the Royal Shakespeare Company are Shakespeare plays. Not all of them but a lot of them are. So we run any Shakespeare play any day and you can book in two hour workshops or full day workshops.
I produce all of the on stage events which might be pre matinee sessions or conferences for sixth formers or primary open days for primary students. Or other types of conferences that we might think will engage young people into the world of the play.
What are Shout Out for the Arts aims for the future?
We would like to engage more young people from across the whole of the county of Warwickshire. So, we want to engage lots of different young people with different lived experiences, from the ages of 5 to 25. So if you know any more young people that you would like to engage please let us know and go to the website.
We also look at embedding partnerships with other organisations. So at the moment we work with Motionhouse which is a dance company. And we know cause we did the first podcast around Motionhouse. We work with Compton Verney which will be the next podcast. And then art gallery in Warwickshire. We work with Warwickshire county council and we also work with Rugby arts gallery as well. But we’d like to involve more organisations in Shout Out for the Arts and I think more teachers as well would be the great great asset. At the moment we haven’t got any teachers on our board.
Can I describe my job in only three words?
That’s really really tricky but I am going to try. These are good questions. So three words for my job would be exciting. Oh I’m trying to think of one, it’s more than three words. Exciting. Unique. It’s never the same, that’s not three words. Exciting, unique and never the same. As in one day is never the same.
How many people do I think inspired by your work?
I hope hundreds, because I want lots and lots of people to get inspired by the arts. I think it’s really really important.
What was your dream job as a child?
So my dream job as a child was to be a ballet dancer at the weekends. Only the weekends and then to be a teacher during the week. That’s what I decided to do, so I would teach children during the week but then on the weekends I would be a ballet dancer. Because I was really really interested in dance. Which I kinda think I have kinda done in some ways. I mean I know it’s not dance but I’m definitely still interested in the arts and I’m still teaching. So I have kind of moulded those two together, and maybe I could just do some pirouettes in the middle somewhere. I don’t know.
How many people are associated with Shout Out for the Arts and how did you recruit them?
What a really good question. So we have recruited lots of arts organisations but there’s only two people that are paid to work on Shout Out for the Arts. One of them is Amy who we’re talking to today as well and one of the other person is a person called Sarah. And the way we recruited both of those was to go out through something called arts jobs and we went out through newspapers. We also asked the young people on our board to write some questions that they wanted to ask those individuals. We did try and get some of you guys to come along to the interview but it was really tricky because you’re obviously at the school and the interviews had to happen during the day.
But that would be something I’d love to do in the future. Is to get the young people from Shout Out for the Arts interviewing people who work on Shout Out for the Arts as well. Interviewing people with full time roles.
The other roles that we have as well that aren’t full time roles or part time roles are freelancer roles. So these roles means that they can work for us but they can work for other organisations as well. And so there’s Beccy who creates the website and does all of our social media posts and links on Twitter and on Instagram and I think even soon on TikTok as well. And then we also worked with person that delivered all of our workshops as part of the ambassador roles within schools. And she’s called Laura as well.
We also work with some, a company who’s going to do a lot of evaluation, Vish her name is, from Earthen Lamp. So there’s lots and lots of different roles but they’re freelancer as well.
If you could choose the next movement Shout Out would make, what would it be?
I think I want to set up a really really local youth board to Stratford-upon-Avon and I’d like to set up a local youth board to the north of Warwickshire to Nuneaton and maybe one in Rugby. And I want those young people to decide on what they want to do in their local area. So rather than the whole of Warwickshire to get really really precise with what you want to do and why. And then feed it back into the whole of Warwickshire.
What skills do you think your job has taught you?
That’s a really good question. I think I’m really a good people person. And it’s taught me to listen. It’s taught me to listen to lots of different types of views from young people right the way through to adults, from actors, directors, project managers and to work with lots of different people in lots and lots of different ways.
Can you please explain if someone would like to join the arts how they can join?
I think keep doing whatever you can possibly do at school, in the community, in youth groups, drama groups, arts groups, music lessons. Do as much as you can whilst you’re young. If you keep keep keep absorbing and doing all these brilliant activities you will find something that really excites and engages you. And then maybe in the future you might want to make that your career, but you will have experienced all these things when you were younger so you know then what you like and what you maybe want to leave at this moment in time.
What do you think your younger self would think of you right now?
Well, I don’t think they could believe that I work at the Royal Shakespeare Company. I think they would think that I would always work with young people because I am a bit of a child at heart really. I think they’d be very proud of what I’ve done and what we’ve done in a group across these, how many years I have lived now.
What was one of the best moments that you’ve had in your job?
Oh, that is a good question. So I think for me it was engaging lots of young people in something called the play making festival. Which Ava has been part of and we have done lots and lots of different variations of the play making festival, where young people get to perform Shakespeare’s plays on our stages in Stratford-upon-Avon. And over 350 young people perform the plays over two days and they perform extracts from the plays. And I love working on that project, seeing the rehearsals, working with the practitioners, the directors, the choreographers, the musicians. Working with the students to then, and their teachers, to then realise it on stage and see it performed in front of all of your parents and teachers and community members.
I think for me that’s one of the best moments that I have had in my job.
[AA] So I feel like those are such hard questions I’ve got some questions for you I would love to ask. I think it’s time for you to answer the questions now. I know that you’ve just joined Shout Out Harshil, so how did you get involved?
[H] A family friend called Saanvi, volunteers for you and she introduced me to Shout Out and I really liked your idea, about like involving young people in an arts company and helping them increase their art skills and ideas and their creativity. That’s why I decided to join.
[A] So my primary school teacher was contacted by Sophie Hobson, from Shout Out for the Arts, who we’ve also interviewed. And she was allowed to choose three students from her class, year 6 and they were me, Saskia who did the Motionhouse interview and Radu who’s no longer in Shout Outs for the Arts. And we went to the first session where they were doing some sort of workshop and we all enjoyed it and decided we’d like to continue.
[AA] That is brilliant, that is good to hear. And also I want to know what you’ve asked me about my dream job was when I was a child, which I couldn’t answer actually. It was too tough a question. I want to know what your dream job is and I’m wondering if it’s got anything to do with the arts. I’m really interested to hear.
[H] My job is either to be an astronomer who studies the sky or either to be an artist because I really love drawing and sketching.
[A] I’m a very artsy person and I haven’t quite got a set path but it’s something to do with writing, dance, acting and singing.
[AA] So not just one specific thing then Ava? No, that’s quite, yeah, that’s quite a lot, quite a lot.
[A] I’ll work out a way.
[AA] Yeah, it’ll all happen.
[AA] Thank you so much for answering my questions and thank you for being such amazing interviewers of me. Thank you.
[H] Thanks so much Sophie and Amy for coming on the show.
[A] If you want to get involved or find out more visit our website at shout out for the arts dot co dot uk.
[H] Look out for more episodes in the series and until next time. I’ve been Harshil.
[A] And I’ve been Ava and you’ve been listening to Unravel the Arts.
Photos by Shout Out for the Arts.