News Story

Our Learning and Engagement trainee Jessica talks about her first few months at the Edinburgh International Festival. This 16-month traineeship is supported by our Learning and Engagement Partner, Baillie Gifford Investment Managers. The traineeship is designed to help young people develop the skills they need to pursue a career in the performing arts.

I joined the Learning and Engagement (L&E) team in July this year and have already had so many amazing experiences. The team works year-round to provide opportunities for people of all ages. We engage with schools, community groups and more to help people to get involved in the arts, welcome them to International Festival shows and get inspired by artists and art forms they might never have come across before.

I was drawn to the role after graduating from dance college. During my studies, I decided that I wanted to work in arts education. The trainee position was ideal for me as it would let me learn new skills in a professional environment and get an insight into what life is like working in the arts. As an Edinburgh local, the Festival has always been prominent in my life. Having benefitted from L&E schemes such as the Young Music Pass myself, I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to provide exciting experiences to others.

I’ve already had so many great, insightful moments since starting my position that it’s hard to narrow it down, but here are some of my highlights.

To celebrate the Festival’s 75th anniversary, we held a spectacular opening event, MACRO, at Murrayfield Stadium. We invited as many community groups as we could as special guests and created a private community hub in the stadium, for the groups to come along to before the performance and enjoy some refreshments.

This was a lovely event to be a part of organising, as people were really excited to have been invited along and I got to meet lots of wonderful members of the community while checking them in at the door. Hearing how much people enjoyed their evening and how special people felt being personally invited was truly heart-warming. It really showed how this personal engagement with our audience members can transform their experience and have a positive impact on their day.

A man in a blue polo shirt holds a mug and smiles at a woman with blonde hair in a yellow Festival t-shirt

Another thing that made this such a success was the fact that we were able to engage people of all ages and lots of families were able to attend together. I find it’s extra special when we can give diverse groups of people a wonderful experience – these kinds of events are a lot more fun with friends and family!

A man in a yellow Festival t-shirt dances in the middle of a group of woman dancing around him.

As a dancer myself, I was really excited about some of the amazing dance productions we had in the programme this year. My personal favourite was Akram Khan Company’s Jungle Book reimagined. Prior to opening night, we held workshops inspired by the show for local community groups, some of which I was able to attend.

I’ve always loved seeing the positive effect dance can have on people and I enjoyed it even more in a community setting, where some attendees had never tried a dance class before. Seeing people have so much fun getting involved in the workshops brought me a lot of joy and the feedback we received afterwards was fantastic. People really got a lot out of the experience, which is something we always strive to achieve.

Throughout the month of August, I had lots of opportunities to attend inspiring performances – from dance pieces, which are very familiar to me, to classical music concerts, which were something new and exciting. I am really looking forward to the months ahead when I’ll be getting more involved in our school projects, which take place throughout the year.

Find out more about the work of our Learning and Engagement department.

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