In 2009 I managed to successfully apply for a Media Art and Design Scholarship at the University of Westminster to get on the part-time evening-only course for MA Film and TV: Theory, Culture and Industry. Without a scholarship that opportunity to have my horizons expanded and to find what I love would not have been an option for me. I completed a BA by taking out a (now comparatively small) student loan (which, like most of my generation, I am still paying off). I am reminded again of how lucky I was in the week Gideon ‘George’ Osbourne’s autumn statement reasserts the governments relentless attempts to disenfranchise and alienate our young people (see here).
A few weeks ago I participated Arts Emergency (AE) mentor training in the hope that interventions such as theirs can prevent talented young people missing out because of their economic limitations. By partnering young people up with mentors from arts and humanities areas, AE’s amazing initiative The Alternative Old Boys Network tries to redress the balance. The aim is to ensure the creative industries reflect the diversity of our society, and is not only populated by people who can afford to take a gamble on a creative career path.
I’ve been asked a few times since attending this training why, when I am really busy, did I volunteer. The answer is simply because I think its important and if I can use the education that I have been given to help others, then great. I’m really looking forward to the opportunity to mentor for AE in future and it was great to meet so many others at training who felt the same. Our government is made up of people who accessed free university education and then used that education to take it away from future generations, it’s an absolute scandal.
I think the legend of Jessica Hynes (who, ever since I first saw Spaced as a teenager I have admired – even before she proved herself an amazing human being by becoming an Arts Emergency patron and giving the best BAFTA speech I’ve ever heard) sums it up best…
Without that scholarship to study a subject I felt passionate about there is no question: I wouldn’t be here now doing what I love and studying for my PhD.
This has been on my mind this week because I have been given the opportunity to teach a second year module in TV Comedy and Drama next year at SHU and I cannot wait. As the module has changed from a solely British focus to an international one, I have been allowed the licence to adapt the module content to include a wider range of examples … and also to give me a chance to apply some of my own research interests (Comedy, Feminism, Identity) to teaching. Excited!!
I’m making my way through the existing handbook, adding in new reading, changing up the lectures and planning what I’m going to screen.
I’ve also gone back through the notes I took when I was doing a TV Comedy module for my MA.
That module was such an eye opener, not just in the way it was taught in such an engaging way (by Ian Green, a person who, in my experience, anyone who has completed the MA Film and TV at Uni of Westminster over the last few decades will happily sing the praises of, myself now included), but also in the way it forced me to question everything I thought I knew about comedy. The three little words, incongruity, superiority and relief were brought to my attention and that as they say, was that. Game over everybody, I’ve found my thing now.
The notes I made during those lectures are absolute gold dust now for planning this module. Including this mega list of words…
I can remember this session really well: I see it written up on the whiteboard (in a room off Regent Street that was actually for people training to be translators and so had weird-looking microphones at every desk).
Like reading a childhood diary I can see in those notes exactly where ideas and concepts that I think about daily and now take for granted were introduced to me. As I watched Ian dash about with a whiteboard marker during that term I never thought I’d ever be up there teaching TV Comedy and Drama. Without that scholarship I wouldn’t be.