She’s a logistics whiz, an organisational maestro, and has a unique ability to make the impossible suddenly seem possible! She’s also a visual artist, specialising in textiles, which is why she’s in demand and works for our sister company, Cabasa, too.
Textiles in Practice
Kate studied Textiles in Practice at Manchester Metropolitan University, the very same degree Global Grooves lead visual artist, Emily Wood, studied. In fact, it was during Kate’s studies that Emily came to speak to her cohort about the opportunity to gain real-world experience by volunteering with Global Grooves and Cabasa.
‘There had been a real focus on fine art, but Emily’s talk was the first time I’d considered community arts,’ she says. ‘I’d spent much of my time at uni wondering “what am I doing? And why am I doing it?” and Emily’s talk was really different and really appealed to me. We were encouraged to get work experience as part of the course, so I went along to The Vale to volunteer.’
Volunteering with Cabasa and Global Grooves
Kate got stuck into batiking at The Vale, waxing, painting and learning new skills.
‘I didn’t know anything about Carnival: I don’t think I knew the meaning of the word, and I’d never even seen a parade! Volunteering gave me new skills, but it was also a great way to find out how to work in the arts and what it can involve,’ she recalls. ‘I remember hearing Emily talking about her research trip to Trinidad, and I was really excited: this was an industry that enabled you to travel, too.’
Kate realised that her voluntary work also constituted as valuable experience in the face of job applications.
‘Once you graduate, you’re asked for one- or two-years’ experience before you can apply for a job, and it’s so difficult to get that experience. Volunteering was a route for that.’
She was then asked to perform at Pride as a butterfly, wearing the beautiful, big wings [link] that other visual artists had created.
‘I was really excited. I’d never done anything like that before, and I was mentally underprepared. I remember Juba do Leão playing and thinking “this music is incredible!” I couldn’t stop dancing! That night I had to go and do a shift at the bar where I worked and I was absolutely exhausted.’
Growing and evolving with Future Leaders
When the opportunity arose to take part in the Future Leaders programme, Emily encouraged Kate, alongside Kate’s fellow course mate, Rowan Taylor.
‘Rowan and I had finished our degrees and were working in bars, wondering what to do with ourselves. Emily told us about Future Leaders and, though we were apprehensive, we decide if we both did it, we’d at least know someone else there!’
Kate remembers. ‘Admittedly, I found it difficult to begin with, being on a residential with lots of people I didn’t know. But then Sidiki [drummer from the Ivory Coast] came in to play and I was just blown away. I actually filmed him, and then kept showing everyone the video because I was so excited!’
Kate found the practical advice given during the Future Leaders programme, such as self-employment and fundraising, invaluable, and wondered why her university course hadn’t divulged something similar.
She was hooked. ‘Suddenly this world, working in the arts, seemed possible.’
A permanent fixture at Global Grooves
As Future Leaders came to an end, Global Grooves advertised for a musician, dancer, visual artist and producer to come on board for a new Creating Carnival project. Having discovered a flair for creating, curating and developing arts projects, Kate applied for the producer role – and was stunned to be awarded it.
‘Producing The Tempest was an incredible experience. I was really well supported, guided every step of the way, but at the same time, it was a case of “you go off and do this”. I had lots of opportunities for reflection and, at the end of the project, we were asked direct questions to think about how we could improve,’ she says.
The experience gave Kate the confidence to finish working in bars and take up freelance contracts with both Global Grooves and Cabasa, working in both producer and visual arts roles.