Performing Arts from Home: Using time at home to increase your skills, experience & employability

by guest blogger: Katy Mulhern (Employability Assistant / MDXworks).

31st March 2020

 

In the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, and after the government have announced strict restrictions on leaving our homes, students of performing arts subjects are likely despairing that their creative outlets are now mostly inaccessible.

However, by using your time at home proactively and inventively, this period of lockdown could actually grant you the opportunity to increase your employability and enhance your skills and experience. By thinking creatively, you could gain some employment from home, get some experience in delivering your content to an audience, or obtain a qualification in a short course.

Think of your creative talent as a muscle; like any muscle, it needs working out and using to keep it at optimum levels. Even though you are being asked to stay inside for the majority of your days, this doesn’t mean you can’t continue to perform, create work, and deliver it to a digital audience never more in need of entertainment!

Don’t worry if some of your first attempts at these suggestions only receive a few signups or low initial viewership. Even if you only feel comfortable reaching out to friends and family at first, this is about getting experience and showing future employers that in a time of crisis, you chose not to sit back and watch Netflix for 12 hours a day, but rather motivated yourself to create something artistic as a means of reaching out to your community.

 

Online Courses

If you are stuck at home with nothing to do, now is the perfect time to sign up for an online course in your discipline, whether this be journalism, creative writing, screenwriting, blogging, radio drama etc.

Future employers will be massively impressed if you devote this time to upskilling yourself and adding more strings to your bow, especially if you complete a course or qualification that you can have for your CV forever!

Future Learn (https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/collections/creative) run a fantastic range of creative courses, from screenwriting and fiction through to songwriting and animation.

Creative Writing Now run various free online courses, delivered to your inbox (https://www.creative-writing-now.com/free-online-writing-courses.html) and Artsy have picked some of the best free courses to give you an insight into specialist areas of creative disciplines (https://www.artsy.net/article/artsy-editorial-10-free-online-courses-help-jumpstart-creativity).

Skillshare has free video courses on a variety of creative topics that you can watch at your own pace, wherever and whenever you please! https://www.skillshare.com/browse/creativity-and-innovation

 

Podcasts

Podcasts are a fantastic way to reach out to your community or other people interested in your subject or discipline. Students on various courses who have pieces of creative writing (short stories, plays, articles, essays etc.) can use this as a chance to test their work out on an audience who have more time to give them their attention than ever! It will look great to any employer if you have actually done something with your work to get it out to an audience, as well as providing you with invaluable feedback on the strengths and weaknesses of your work. Programmes like Audacity mean you can create these from home.

Even if creative writing isn’t your bag, you can create podcasts discussing topics of interest, which will show your enthusiasm and dedication to your subjects. You could even consider creating podcasts based on requests – for example, a listener could offer a small donation in return for a personalised podcast in your area of speciality. Some people might be interested in “Five Difficult Books You Can Finally Attempt During Quarantine”, or some might request “The Top 10 Films about Global Pandemics”!

You may want to host light-hearted comedy podcasts, or you might prefer to focus on current events and how we can reach out to each other and offer help and a sense of community in these scary times. Whatever your area of expertise, use this time as an opportunity to share it with others.

You can get your classmates and peers involved in these discussions, or ask them to read parts in a radio play or short story you’ve written. This will show your creativity and initiative, and is something you can direct employers to in the hope they can see your ability to manage projects and reach an audience.

Here are some great resources to help you get started with step-by-step guides and things to consider:

 

Blogging

Online blogs, especially those relevant to your industry, are brilliant to refer an employer to, for many reasons.

First, they give a great picture of you as an individual – your style, your interests, your areas of expertise and your personality.

They show a keen enthusiasm for getting your work to an audience and that you are a candidate that actually has something to say, improving your chances of convincing them that you can bring something unique to their company.

If you’ve always wanted to start a blog, but have never had the time, now’s your chance to get it started. The best thing about blogging is that anyone can do it, and it’s easy to get up and running!

The following article helpfully gives 45 tips to starting a blog, covering technical, practical and content issues: https://www.codeinwp.com/blog/starting-a-blog/

How do I start a blog? : https://www.bloggingbasics101.com/how-do-i-start-a-blog/

 

Online dance/fitness classes

Now is a great time to gain some coaching/instructing experience for your CV, with the opportunity to run online dance classes and communal workout activities. If you don’t have the resources to run these live, you still have the option to record a dance class or workout for sharing on YouTube and other video platforms, so that people can return to the videos at any time.

Taking the plunge and delivering your first classes will be incredibly beneficial when it comes to running similar activities in real life – think of it as a test run for having a real audience in front of you! This is something to consider for anyone hoping to get into a job that involves teaching, coaching or workshops, or if you are interested in getting into the dance or fitness industry. Not only does it show your passion for the activity, but it will enhance and demonstrate your skills in communication and public speaking.

Here is a good blog post with practical tips on things to consider when creating dance/fitness videos, as well as a tool to help create videos:

 

Comedy

In these worrisome times, there has been no shortage of people sharing videos, skits, lipsynchs, impressions and many more to lighten the mood – if comedy is your thing, get involved! You may not be able to get to a comedy club at the moment, but you still have the chance to test your material, be that performance-based or written. If you have a great knack for making people laugh, you’ve never had a better chance of your ideas going “viral”. You might want to keep it topical, or you might finally want to put together that scene/podcast/essay/monologue/stand-up routine that has been in the back of your mind.

A successful piece of comedy can pick up exposure rapidly on social media, so don’t be shy – use YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, or wherever you think people might appreciate and share your work.

 

Music

For those with an interest in music, there are loads of options to get creative at home with. If you are a songwriter, why not create a YouTube channel where you can upload your music?

If you’d rather not be the centre of attention, there are multiple virtual choirs going on around the country that would love to have your involvement. Or if singing isn’t your thing, why not create some music with a virtual band instead? If you can’t find anything that really “sings” to you – create your own!

You might be the perfect person to create a “Self-Isolation Spotify Playlist” and might want to do a podcast on your reasoning behind the choices, if you have good knowledge of and interest in music.

Perhaps you would rather make a bit of money by offering online music classes to kids. Parents will be looking for ways to keep children entertained, so now is a great chance to advertise your services and run lessons from the comfort of your home.

Any of these activities will help enhance your online presence and display your proactivity in a time of real difficulty for everyone.

 

Online entertainment

Many entertainment employers will still be trying to deliver services to certain clients, including children’s entertainment, quiz nights, bingo, games, amongst others. These employers are still worth writing to if you are willing to deliver some of these services from home. Maybe you have a better idea for some online entertainment that you can advertise locally, or take some inspiration from that old Halloween costume in the back of your wardrobe and offer to make virtual appearances for children who will be celebrating birthdays without their friends and family.

Taking part in activities like this is not only a chance to make some money where possible, but shows future employers your community spirit and entrepreneurial flair.

Check listings on StarNow (https://www.starnow.co.uk/) and Entertainers Worldwide (https://www.entertainersworldwide.com/) for what is still running during the crisis, and if there’s anything you can get involved with.

 

Theatre/Plays

At a time when theatres around the country have been forced to temporarily close, it is vitally important that everyone in the industry keeps their passion for theatre alive and starts preparations for getting it back on its feet as soon as possible. If you had something lined up, there is no reason that you can’t continue some rehearsals over Skype, even if that consists of just running lines and bouncing ideas off each other.

Don’t fear if you didn’t have any performances scheduled – there is nothing to stop you making plans and preparations for putting on a show. Get some classmates or company members together over the internet and do some table reads, experiment with different types of work, discuss some projects you can be working on from home, write your own material and start researching venues for putting on a production.

A lot of theatres will be trying to manage their reopening, with schedules turned upside down due to the crisis, but there are endless venues in London that are perfect for creating site-specific work, and they will hopefully be eager to start getting involved with the theatre industry once everyone is back to normality. London is full of fringe theatre companies putting on shows in warehouses, chapels, vaults, parks, a variety of empty/derelict/abandoned buildings… even car parks! Your lockdown period is the perfect time to delve into the opportunities available to you and summon some inspiration.

Another bonus of having rehearsed, getting off-book and making some production plans before physical rehearsals means you will need less time in a rehearsal space, saving money and giving you a great headstart towards your final production.

 

Finally…

If you are struggling with motivation, or lacking space and inspiration at home, don’t despair. Set yourself small, achievable targets to begin with and think of your project as something to enjoy and which will provide a creative outlet for you. 99u (https://99u.adobe.com/) provides some helpful tips and advice for creatives working from home. It’s Nice That has created a fantastic page that you should regularly check, including initiatives you can get involved in from home, creative support networks, learning opportunities and general information. https://www.itsnicethat.com/news/advice-and-support-for-creatives-during-coronavirus-creative-industry-230320

Nearly everyone, at some point, has had that moment where they consider a project they would like to undertake… if only they had the time. Once the world is back in full swing, you don’t want to look back and think of all the things you could have done when you had so much time to fill at home.  One of the positives we can take from this uncertain, disquieting period of being stuck at home is that we’ve never had so much time available to spend on our own personal development. Making the best of a difficult situation, using your talent and creating something – no matter how small – will not only provide that little endorphin boost and sense of satisfaction, but will set you apart from the crowd when it comes to selling yourself to future employers.

by guest blogger: Katy Mulhern (MDXworks Employability Assistant). 

 

If you’re an MDX student or recent graduate, you can still access careers & employability support from MDXworks during the lockdown. We are not able to offer face-to-face appointments at the moment, but we can support you online, via email (MDXworks@MDX.ac.uk) or Skype and we also offer telephone appointments.

You can also access a wide range or useful stuff on our online portal at MDXworks.com, including resources specific to careers in a range of Media & Performing Arts industries

Please don’t hesitate to get in touch if there’s anything we can do to help.

– MDXworks careers & employability team

 

If you found this post useful, we think you’d also like reading ‘COVID-19: Showcasing your creativity during lockdown’ with inspirational examples of things you could do to showcase your talents, improve your employability, and help others at the same time!

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