Saphia Venner is Gallery Assistant at Bow Arts.
So, the other night I attended the Private View of ‘A Month at the Venice Biennale: Work by British Council Fellows’ – an exhibition I organised and curated whilst working as the Gallery Assistant for Bow Arts. It was an exciting evening, where I had the opportunity to see people engaging with and enjoying the diverse array of works on display, and it was hugely rewarding for me to know that I helped bring this exhibition together.
Thinking back to this time last year, when I was in the midst of my final year at university, I wouldn’t have dreamed that a year down the line I would be working for an arts organisation as exciting as Bow Arts, let alone that I would have curated an exhibition in partnership with the British Council.
When I first came across the STEP programme, I obviously had no idea what it would eventually mean for me. I’d spent months trawling through jobs sites, applying for unpaid internships and attending job interviews, always eventually receiving the same feedback… “You just don’t have enough practical experience”. So when I came across the ‘Shared Training and Employment Programme’ I was so happy to finally find an opportunity that reflected the ‘in-between’ stage that so many recent graduates, including myself, often find themselves in post-university. It is a big jump from the world of study to the world of work, so the fact that the STEP programme provides professional training and support, alongside a paid job, is what makes it such a fantastic opportunity.
During my time at Bow Arts, I have met so many interesting people and worked with an array of volunteers, artists, technicians, curators, etc. Not only has this experience been professionally enriching, but it has also been personally enriching, giving me the chance to collaborate with a whole new network of creative people that I would not have had access to otherwise.
I have had support and encouragement from my Bow Arts mentor: Sophie, and Julia from the A.N.D team, as well as my STEP mentor and other fantastic organisations such as Creative Access. I have been encouraged to look at new ways of thinking, attending a diverse range of workshops set out to aid our professional development and creative thinking. The STEP programme is what has enabled me to do all of these things, giving me a platform to build upon the skills I gained throughout university. My experiences so far have opened my eyes to new ways of thinking, and have helped me set goals and aspirations for now and for my future.
I am only half way through the STEP programme, and yet I have already come so far from where I was mentally and professionally at this time last year, and even compared to where I was at the start of this programme 4 months ago. Though it will be hard (extremely hard!) for me to leave Bow Arts, I am excited about what’s to come, and extremely grateful to everyone who made this possible.