This is my 208th Education blog for The Stage. That means that we’ve reached the second anniversary because I do two a week so that’s twice 104.
Enough of the maths. This blog came about because there is so much happening in performing arts education, from work for babies through to opportunities for elderly people and other special needs groups. As it takes in the whole gamut of school, college, community and vocational training along the way, the information was flooding into my email box from all directions. There were far more interesting education stories to tell and projects to publicise than I could ever squeeze onto the Training page in the print paper.
So I asked Brian Attwood, esteemed editor of The Stage, if I could have a blog slot to complement the print education features in the paper. It would, I proposed, be about training and education and provide an outlet for all that information which was, then, going to waste. He said yes — and here we are, two years and 90,000 or so words later.
Blogs are strange things. Typically they take a diary format and adopt a very chatty, discursive tone. This one tends not to do that and is effectively a series of shortish online features. There is so much going on that I think readers will want to know about that most of the time I simply share the information — more use, probably, than heavy emphasis on my opinions although, of course, there is some of that too.
I use Twitter (where I’m @SusanElkinJourn) — mini-blogging really — for the quirky, up to the minute stuff, including thoughts and impressions. And it was The Stage who encouraged me to start tweeting (by sending me on a Twitter course!) But that’s another story.
A look back over the two years of the Education and Training blog shows what a range of subjects we’ve visited in this slot. The very first was about Formula One designer Dominic Smith proving that engineering and the arts can mix while later in the same month I looked at the training potential of AmDram. Since then I’ve written about various new training providers and many new projects in well established ones. I’ve mentioned the horrors of drama school showcases and useless ladies’ lavatories in performing arts venues (both more than once). I’ve reviewed training books and described and discussed dozens of competitions, awards and successes. There have been visits and interviews galore. I’ve criticised, reminisced and speculated. I’ve annoyed people. And occasionally I’ve pleased them. The range - which I’ve surveyed today to write this - surprises even me.
It all goes to show what an important part of this industry education and training has developed into. Someone told me recently that 25 years ago he attended a meeting of theatre education staff drawn from theatre companies all over the UK. They fitted into one small room. Today, he pointed out cheerfully, they’d have to hire the Albert Hall. Yes, some things have changed for the better and I honestly don’t think that government cuts/savings are going to dent it all that much because creative people will simply find other ways of making creative things happen.
Meanwhile, the information coming in has escalated over two years and I still have a space problem in that there is more I want to say than I have room for. Nonetheless, I’m pleased, from the readership it seems to attract and the comments readers sometimes post, with what this blog seems to be achieving. It has also proved to be a wonderful means of getting to know many more people in the industry than in my pre-blog days.
A glass of something celebratory is called for, I think. Cheers! Here’s to the next two years and beyond.