The King’s Cultural Challenge summons the collective and individual creative-brain power of King’s students, inspiring debate, reflection and the generation of original ideas for how art and culture can positively transform the world that we live in.
Hundreds of students receive coaching and submit their ideas each year as part of the challenge. Four of the best ideas win their creators a paid internship with one of the Cultural Challenge partners: the V&A, the Roundhouse, the Southbank Centre and the Royal Opera House.
Last year, Kat Pierce – BA English Literature, Faculty of Arts & Humanities – won an internship with the Roundhouse for her idea: The Grid – an innovative scheme to rebalance the distribution of cultural arts funding across the UK, based around three initiatives: Be a Boss, Transport a Brain, Influence the World.
Interning at the Roundhouse by Kat Pierce
Around a year ago today I won an internship at the Roundhouse after taking part in the King’s Cultural Challenge 2015. Around a year ago today, I didn’t know much about the Roundhouse. I knew that it was a music venue, I knew that it was in Camden, I presumed that it was round. During my time at the Roundhouse as on a Performing Arts Placement, I was lucky enough to learn more about how this iconic institution runs and operates, meeting some phenomenally talented early-career artists and a wonderful team of people along the way.
Defying the stereotype that interns are only ever entrusted to make tea and coffee, I was encouraged to get stuck in with preparations for Roundhouse’s Last Word festival, a month long celebration of Spoken Word. One of my first tasks was helping to organise and facilitate the Roundhouse’s long-running and much celebrated Poetry Slam. After helping with programming, drawing up contracts and collecting trophies, I watched poets from across the nation perform alongside trailblazers in the field of spoken word at an evening that was both humorous and heart-rending.
Other memorable moments from Last Word festival included: sitting in on a late-stage rehearsal and lending a hand in setting up performances for Cecilia Knapp’s fantastic one-woman show, Finding Home; helping to organise tickets and generally run around after the superbly talented finalists of Words First, a poetry showcase organised in collaboration with BBC 1Xtra (featuring the phenomenal Kate Tempest); watching Irvine Welsh and Beardyman perform with improvised music during performance extravaganza, Tongue Fu.
Once Last Word festival had drawn to a close, it was time to press on with preparations for the Roundhouse’s Punk Weekender. As the punk scene came to life in the mid-late 70s, the Roundhouse played host to seminal musicians such as The Clash, The Ramones, and Patti Smith. In homage to the building’s longstanding relationship with the sub-culture, Roundhouse was to host a weekend of live music, DIY stalls, talks and workshops. I was asked to walk through Camden Market, chatting to independent stall-holders, record stores and zine producers to ask if they wanted to take part in the event as well as contacting smaller business-owners online.
But my internship at the Roundhouse also took me further afield than Camden Market. More specifically, to Leeds, Manchester and Cardiff for Bryony Kimmings’ Boys Project: ‘a long term art and activism project, exploding media stereotypes and the political marginalisation of the young’. The project fuses politics and art to inspire its participants (50 young men) to become art-activists. During my time as an intern I helped to organise Roundhouse’s involvement with the project, travelling with participants to the above UK cities and hearing from fantastic speakers such as Owen Jones, Michael Sani of Bite the Ballot and Richard Hawkins of the Heathrow 13 along the way.
Sadly, all good things must come to an end. After a wonderful six weeks of interning, encouragement and opportunities it’s safe to say that I’m gutted to be leaving the Roundhouse. From performing arts, to development, to marketing and beyond, thank you all for making me feel welcome from day one. And thank you to King’s for the opportunity to work in one of London’s most respected and well-loved arts venues.
Photography by Cesare de Giglio
Words by Kat Pierce