Last year, the University of Salford collaborated with the Manchester Communication Academy in Harpurhey for the ‘Expert in Residence’ scheme. The aim of the scheme is for university students to spend time with year 7, 8, 9 and 10 students and to assist them in specific subject areas.
Theresa Foster has just finished her final year studying BA (Hons) Performance: Drama and Theatre. For the past year she has been going to the Academy to pass on her knowledge of theatre and performance to the budding actors and performers at the school.
She originally attended the school after being given the opportunity to deliver a workshop on audition techniques to year 9 BTEC students based on their approaching solo monologues exam. Their teacher was so impressed by the way that the children responded to her that Theresa was put forward to take part in the ‘Expert in Residence’ scheme.
At first her duties included participating in theatrical warm-ups and assisting the students with the various tasks they were set during their lessons. As her relationship with the students and the teaching staff developed, she was given more responsibility and began leading warm ups at the beginning of each lesson, leading tasks and workshops and eventually teaching whole lessons in the lead up to their performance projects. Theresa said; “I have watched all of my students grow, change, develop and learn over the course of this year so it was an incredibly emotional experiencing watching students who have stressed, worried and worked so incredibly hard perform and deliver to the best of their ability. There is nothing more rewarding than seeing a student walk off stage with a beaming smile!”
The students she taught weren’t the only ones to grow and learn because of the scheme. Theresa was able to take away valuable professional experience. “Becoming a part of this scheme has become one of the most challenging yet rewarding elements of my university life. It was opportunity to learn from some of the best teaching staff and through this I have gained confidence in my ability and developed a firm but fair teaching approach.”
Since the scheme came to an end, Theresa has continued to work directly with the Manchester Communication Academy as the teaching staff were so impressed with the way the students responded to her tutelage and subject knowledge and she now looks forward to a full time career in education using the invaluable experience that the scheme has afforded her.
The Expert in Residence scheme is now in its second year and will continue to place students from various disciplines in teaching roles at the Manchester Communication Academy. If you are a student at the University of Salford and you would like to be considered for a place on the scheme next year, keep an eye out for updates on the student channels or contact Rachel Borland in the School of Arts & Media Engagement Team for more information.
Two MA Journalism students Isobel Greenfield and Kate Berry have proved just how valuable Salford’s close links with the BBC can be, as both gone straight into jobs at the BBC after finishing their post graduate courses at the University.
Our journalism graduates leave University with all the skills and knowledge they need in order to become successful journalists and broadcasters, however, it is an industry where who you know can be just as important as what you know. Luckily, many of our staff are media professionals with solid connections across the industry. Isobel and Kate took advantage of their tutor Caroline Cheetham’s contacts at BBC Radio 5Live to land jobs working on the Drive and Breakfast shows respectively.
They both began as telephone operators, taking calls from listeners during radio phone-ins, and vetting them before passing details onto the show’s producers to be included in the show. Through hard work enthusiasm, however, it wasn’t long before they were both given more challenging and hands-on roles, Katy as a researcher for the Breakfast Show and Isobel as a broadcast assistant for 5Live Drive.
Katy, who has also worked on a voluntary basis for BBC Radio Manchester’s Jewish Hour, Inrix Media and BBC Radio Lancashire, explained how her time at Salford helped her in getting work; “I owe Caroline a great debt of gratitude as she helped me get a foot in the door at 5Live, where there are more opportunities than at the local stations I had been working in. The fact that the post grad course is NCTJ accredited has helped me obtain some shifts as a broadcast journalist, which I wouldn’t have been able to get had I not had an industry-recognised Media Law qualification. The lessons we had from (Journalism lecturer) Sarah Jones on mobile journalism have also been instrumental to my career so far, because that is the future of journalism and employers are looking for people who have experience of creating interesting and engaging content for online.”
Isobel hopes that these early opportunities with the BBC are the start of a long career working in radio, which began when she was studying for her MA in Broadcast Journalism. She said “The facilities at Salford meant that I learned how to use the latest TV and editing programmes. The news days and exams prepared me for entering a real life studio and taught me what to expect when making a programme - just like I did in my shift for 5Live Drive. It was an invaluable experience, and without it I would not be here today. Thank you, Salford!”
The University of Salford prides itself on its record of producing extremely high calibre design graduates. Not only is this proved by the fact that many of our students go on to achieve high levels of success in their careers once they graduate, but also by the various awards that are handed out to Salford students each year.
Heather Metcalfe is one such student who, during her time studying BA (Hons) Graphic Design, has won not just one, but three prestigious awards; two YCN student awards and a much coveted D&AD ‘In Book’ award.
She won her first YCN student award in 2013 whilst working in partnership with fellow student Laura-Marie Saul. The brief they were given was to make coffee brand Dowe Egberts more appealing to a younger generation, which they achieved through the use of hashtags and new packaging imagery.
Following on from last year’s success, Heather and Laura-Marie proved their abilities again in 2014, challenging themselves further by undertaking two briefs for the YCN awards, one for Standard Life and the other for Boost drinks. The work they produced for Boost Drinks bagged the pair their second YCN Award and they are excited to be travelling down to London once again for the glitzy awards ceremony in September.
As if winning two highly sought after awards with her design partner Laura-Marie wasn’t enough, Heather also entered into the D&AD ‘New Blood’ competition on her own. This time her brief was to promote the well-known cosmetics brand Body Shop. As Heather explains; “Working on this brief was quite a challenge and I had quite a few ideas and didn’t know what to focus on. With some guidance and feedback from the tutors I was once again on the right track. My idea for this brief was to #BEWEIRD as one of the Body Shop’s core values was to be yourself and comfortable with who you are.” Her work is now available for the world to see on the D&AD website.
Heather’s own hard work and talent were obviously key to her successes, but her course tutors were also instrumental in her getting to where she is today. She said; “The tutors are brilliant at getting students involved in competitions. They’re really passionate and excitable and that kind of rubs off on you. They are highly critical of work but that is a good thing because it really raises the bar on the standard of work and helps you grow as a designer.”
Heather has now graduated with a first class honours degree and is working as a Front End Web Designer for Umi Digital at MediaCityUK but has one last piece of advice to give to this year’s intake of new Graphic Design students who are ready to follow in her award winning footsteps; “Get involved, be creative and have fun. The tutors are really encouraging and know so much so take advantage of the time you are at University and try different things and experiment. It’s really good for finding your own design style and seeing where it can lead you.”
The University of Salford has long placed emphasis forging solid links with local industry in order to make our students as prepared as they possibly can be for the working world. In keeping with tradition, we have recently been working closely with the Co-operative Group on a number of projects.
Design graduate Bethany Stott spent a number of months working with the Co-op on a voluntary placement towards the end of her final year. During the placement she assisted the development team in designing training materials. They were so impressed with the work she produced that she managed to secure a full time position with them. Her current job entails supporting the design and development of blended learning interventions and supporting the delivery of end to end projects, however she has just landed herself a new position as the Creative Designer within the Learning Team, which she is due to start shortly.
It was through taking part in a live brief project that prepared her for the role at the co-op. As she explains; “Taking part in live briefs during my studies was extremely beneficial and prepared me for working within the design industry. It allows you to work as a team, work to tight deadlines and budgets and work with key stakeholders. Working on live briefs prepares you for the environment and culture of working in the design industry and I was very grateful after finishing university that I had the opportunity to take part in these types of project.”
She is now working with the University to put measures in place to make sure more students get the opportunity to work with the Co-Op on future projects. It’s a two way relationship in that the students gain experience, while the Co-op gets fresh ideas for new and exciting projects. As Bethany puts it; “We are currently going through a dynamic change as a business and we are really looking towards new and fresh talent that can start to re-establish how great this business is. Working alongside the university allows us to tap into some of the innovative youth of today and gain new approaches.
“Whilst working alongside the university, we are also gaining new skills as a department by making sure everyone’s skills within the team are up to speed and developing new ones to continue working at the highest standards. I think it’s really important that students have these opportunities to shine and gain experiences that will help to shape their future and give them and helping hand when it comes to going out into the industry.”
For more information about live briefs and industry placement opportunities, please visit: www.salford.ac.uk/arts-media/business.
Five years after he graduated with honours in English and Creative Writing, University of Salford alumnus Sean Gregory is returning to the School of Arts and Media in order to undertake a PTE (Pathway to Excellence) programme, which involves him undertaking extensive research while also teaching classes to students.
Sean’s proposed research title is ‘Creating Histories: (Re)Invention of the Past in Anthony Burgess’. He explained to us why he has decided to return to the University; “It wouldn’t be over the top to say I have achieved everything so far as a writer due to the staff and students at Salford. It’s a hugely supportive university, all the tutors want to push you to develop as a writer, which means the more you put into the course the higher quality work you will get out. My time as an undergraduate at Salford was fantastic and really defined the kind of work I wanted to make. About a year ago I started to think about working on a longer project, either a novel or a series of related stage plays. Most of my writing has relied on periods of research that have benefitted my work. I also enjoy supporting and working with young writers, and the PTE award means that I will have teaching time on the BA Creative Writing at Salford.”
Since he graduated, Sean has enjoyed success as a playwright. His break came in 2009 when he was made a Grand Finalist for the Red Planet Prize, an award for up and coming writing talent run by Red Planet Pictures. Through them he was given the opportunity to spend time working with the head of Red Planet Tony Jordan, a well-respected, award winning writer whose writing credits include programmes such as Life on Mars, EastEnders, Minder and Hustle.
It wasn’t long after the Red Planet Prize that one of his plays was performed at the 24/7 Festival, which every year showcases the best new writing and performing talent in the North West. Sean said of the experience; “Having your work on, particularly your first play, is a huge learning curve. Your writing stops being words on a page and becomes words in peoples’ mouths. Working on fringe theatre also allows writers to see their job in context of the larger machine.”
Later, his play Script in Hand, an ambitious piece inspired by the life of the German typographer who created the Futura font, Paul Renner was performed to much applause at The Edinburgh Fringe festival in 2012. This “play within a play” covers themes such as censorship, persecution, World War II and the moon landing and not only was it extremely well received by critics, it also won the Three Weeks Editors’ Choice award. Winning the award led to the play being picked up by London venue, the Arcola Theatre and furthered his reputation as a writer.
Since then Sean has been passing his knowledge onto budding writers and actors. He co-founded the ‘To the Stage’ project for Trafford based company Creative Industries, through which he hosted development events and theatre masterclasses, and now things have come full circle as he returns to the University to undertake his PTE.
To find out more about our courses, including the opportunity to conduct research with us, please visit: www.salford.ac.uk/arts-media/courses.
The City of Asylum/Pittsburgh is an organisation dedicated to providing protection and accommodation to writers who have been forced into exile due to censorship laws in their native countries. Among their notable writers in residence are Chinese poet Huang Xiang, Burmese journalist, Khet Mar and El Salvadorian novelist Horacio Castellanos Moya. All have faced persecution in their native countries because of their writing and have been able to seek refuge and continue writing thanks to this humanitarian endeavour.
The University of Salford recently got involved with this worthy cause when six students from Pittsburgh’s Point Park University spent two weeks collaborating with four of our BA (Hons) Animation students at our animation suite at MediaCityUK. By the end of their two week long collaboration they had produced a series of animated clips for City of Asylum/Pittsburgh that featured 2D, stop motion and CGI animation techniques that were edited together into one promotional video.
The streets of The City of Asylum/Pittsburgh are unique in that the writers who are given sanctuary there are encouraged to decorate the façades of their houses with their own words, in a process they call “house publishing”. These houses are located on Sampsonia Way, the street that lends its name to the online literary magazine which is produced by The City and features contributions from the exiles.
The animation students took their inspiration from the words penned by the writers in residence, the “house-published poems” and the stories and experiences that led to them taking refuge in Pittsburgh. 2nd year Animation student Aaron Kneen was one of the students that took part in the project and he based his piece on the life of Khet Mar and the mural painted on her house in the City of Asylum by her husband, visual artist Than Htay. Aaron said “I had a lot of fun on the project. It was great meeting new people; the students from Pittsburgh were all really nice people and quite adept at what they do. Working within such a small time frame was different compared to the months we usually have when working on modules but the final piece ended up looking good and it was just a fun project for a good cause.”
The students from Pittsburgh were extremely impressed with the facilities on offer at MediaCityUK, especially our green screen room and stop-motion animation room. Gemma Carrigher, another Salford student said; “I got to know the students from Pittsburgh and really get to see what kind of animation they liked to do. I even learned a few things from them during this project. I met some incredible people that I hope to meet again and maybe go to Pittsburgh and do a project with them over there.”
Visitors to this year’s Create Salford festival were given a sneak preview of the promotional animation when it was previewed at the event. The final piece will soon be featured on the City of Asylum/Pittsburgh’s website, so watch this space.
A former University of Salford postgraduate student has scooped a top industry award in journalism - just a year after she graduated.
A panel of leading industry professionals judged that Sian Davies, 27, who now works at The Plymouth Herald, was the best young journalist in the South West of England.
Sian landed the award after securing a trainee reporter job while completing the MA Journalism programme at Salford, which is accredited by the National Council for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ).
She has since been promoted to the post of Health Reporter at The Plymouth Herald.
After winning the Newcomer of the Year at the EDF Energy South West of England Media Awards, Sian said: “Salford University gave me a great start in what is such a competitive industry – one which I had been scared about venturing into for years because I thought I wouldn’t be cut out for it.
“Studying for industry-approved exams with the NCTJ, having the support of experienced tutors with a wealth of experience and being encouraged to do as much work experience as possible gave me the confidence I needed to make the most of the course and ultimately bag a job at an award-winning paper.
“I am still close friends with a number of my peers on the course and had a great year both personally and professionally while I was at Salford.”
Paul Broster, Programme Leader for MA Journalism, said: “Sian was an outstanding student and is now an outstanding young journalist, who, like many of our graduates, is now working in the industry. I’m absolutely thrilled - but not surprised - by her success.”
As well as making contacts and connections with the local creative community, here at the University of Salford’s School of Arts and Media, we believe it is also extremely important for students to make links internationally in order to gain a greater understanding of working on a global scale.
Luke Yale, a BA (Hons) Performance: Drama and Theatre student, has spent the last three months working in collaboration with the performance department at Middle Tennessee State University, assisting them with the scenic design for a production of S.E Hinton’s The Outsiders, which is due to take place at The Nashville Children’s Theatre in October 2014.
Hinton’s original novel of The Outsiders is set in Oklahoma in the 1960’s and although this new stage production does stick to the original story, Luke and the team at MTSU were given creative licence to create a whole new world in which the characters could interact with each other. For the set, Luke took influences from German expressionism and the work of Alfred Hitchcock to create an imposing scenic design, while incorporating a 1950’s style drive through cinema screen as a backdrop, allowing for projections.
Luke has documented his experience of working with the MTSU in a dedicated blog, which covers everything from his initial research and brainstorming sessions, to Skype sessions with various members of the team in Nashville.
Obviously working on a project with a team of people on the other side of the Atlantic presents its own challenges as well as rewards. As Luke explains; “Although I knew from day one that the project would ‘physically’ be happening in Nashville, I never thought it would be as challenging as it was. A lot of scenic design based work that I’ve done in the past I actually led on, painting, creating, and designing the final piece. With The Outsiders however, I had to get familiar with a new way of working, more virtually I suppose!”
Despite these challenges though, Luke says that the project was worth it in terms of the experience it has afforded him; “Doing such a project for a renowned, professional company has allowed me to take a step up from the work that I have already completed in the last several years. It’s allowed me to experiment with the ways in which a scenic-designer can ‘research’ into everything about a performance. Above all though, it’s showed me just how vital drama is in people’s lives. With regards to the way in which drama as a subject is perceived in the current climate, I think to lose such a subject would be a great loss from the lives of future students.”
The University is constantly striving to forge links with schools and businesses around the world and new opportunities for students to collaborate on an international level are always being created. For more information about other international projects, please visit our website: www.salford.ac.uk/arts-media/international.
When Padraig Confrey and James Monaghan met three years ago, on the very first day of their time at the University of Salford, little did they know that it would be the start of a long lasting relationship that would see them forming SheepKuckle, an experimental performance partnership that has begun making waves amongst Manchester’s arts community and receiving commissions and funding from various arts organisations.
During their second and third years on the BA (Hons) Performance: Contemporary Practices degree, the duo began working together on a multimedia module due to a shared interest in technology. They honed their craft, developing a number of experimental pieces that they have since performed at various venues across Manchester and the North West.
For their final year project they performed an intensive week long ‘durational’ performance at Islington Mill. The piece, entitled Man Vs Artist questioned whether the actual process of developing a piece of work could be considered art. The audience could attend at any time, 24 hours a day to watch the duo at work.
Around this time they also applied for the O2 Think Big project, which offered funds to kick start projects. They were successful in their bid and received £300, which they used to set up performance workshops in the local area.
Shortly after, they were commissioned to perform their piece Echo at Works Ahead, an event held in collaboration with the Contact Theatre and Word of Warning, which sought to showcase up and coming, boundary pushing contemporary performance and live art.
A month later in June, SheepKnuckle performed their piece A Brave and Startling Truth at the Flare International Festival of New Theatre. The piece is an experiment inspired by the poem by Maya Angelou of the same name. The performance happens online through social mediums such as Facebook and Twitter in an attempt highlight how cold and sterile these methods of communication can be.
SheepKnuckle’s talent and creativity has achieved the pair a name for themselves in the arts community and it was the University of Salford that nurtured those qualities. Padraig says; “We are immeasurably grateful for the opportunities that have been presented to us and the energy and time that has been invested into the idea of SheepKnuckle by all those involved. We could not have done it without the support and feedback of students and staff at Salford. There is a real community vibe around the School of Arts and Media. Everyone from Music to Graphic Design is keen to collaborate and that truly is a wonderful, unique opportunity to have. Now we’ve left we are continued to be supported and guided through our professional and personal lives. Salford is a great place to study, to forge relationships and most importantly to find creative freedom.”