My work placement with GemArts

Hello, my name is Laichee.

I am a Northumbria University MA student, currently studying Cultural Management. As part of the course, students are required to find an arts or cultural organisation to complete a placement with. After researching local organisations, and speaking to my lecturers I decided that GemArts would be an interesting organisation to study and gain experience in. I have been working with GemArts as part of this first student placement since 24th February 2015, experiencing Indian classical concerts, studying the organisation as a whole and learning about the processes and procedures they have in place.

I come from Malaysia, a multiracial country, where Malay, Chinese, Indian, and other minority ethnic groups including Sikh have all settled. GemArts mission is to increase equality of opportunity for everyone to engage with culturally diverse arts – as producers, participants and audiences. Being part of GemArts, has created a sense of belonging and nostalgia for me, especially through their work presenting Indian and other diverse cultural art forms in Newcastle. The ancient Indian melodies and odes I have listened to at GemArts concerts, and the beautiful dance images in the brochure and on the website, quickly reminded me of the Indian culture that can be seen and experienced in my own country.  This has been a lovely reminder of Malaysia while I am so far from home. Before I leave GemArts I hope to write a short piece about the performances I attended while working with the organisation.

GemArts office is located in the beautiful old building of Gateshead Old Town Hall, but their work spreads much further than this. While working with the organisation I have attended Indian classical concerts at Sage Gateshead, as well as a dance performance at Newcastle College Performance Academy. Alongside the programme of concerts and events, GemArts also work in participatory arts with community groups and schools. On International Women’s Day I was able to join women working on one of GemArts’ art projects. They group were celebrating the day at Bensham Grove, making hand dyed, woodcut printed textile bookmarks. I met lovely women at the event, and had a good chat with one woman who had moved to Gateshead from India. There were no barriers between us, though this was the first time we met, all the women in the group were working together to make the event a success and share their skills.

Textile prints

Designs made by Laichee at International Womens Day Celebration event March 2015

During these weeks I have really enjoyed working alongside and learning from Vikas, Director of GemArts, who is full of dynamic energy, which is also seen in GemArts as an organisation. I agree with the description of GemArts as “…a dynamic arts development organisation…”, and I like the focusing atmosphere here in the office. I have a few more weeks left working with GemArts, and I look forward to learning more about this organisation, and the next high quality Arts performance on 18th April, Murad Ali and Gurdain Rayatt.

Post by Laichee

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