Liverpool Hope inspires alumna's career in the ArtsThursday 1 February 2018
Alumna Emma Smith explains how her time at Liverpool Hope inspired her to pursue a career in the Arts.
The Director of the Liverpool Irish Festival moved from Leicester to study Drama and Theatre Studies at Hope in 1997, graduating in 2000 with a drive to ‘get up, help out and get on with it’.
Emma said: “At the time, Hope was one of the only - if not the only - universities in the country to offer these subjects as an equal honours course. Balancing creativity with groups of people always excited and delighted me. The sparring and problem solving; creative solution-finding and identifying ways of supporting one another to develop strong, meaningful work clearly served as a stepping stone for what I have gone on to do.
“After graduating, I moved quickly in to working with my former Hope lecturer - and political theatre expert - Aleksander (Sacha) Dundjerovic on setting up a company - Kollectiv Theatre, researching academic texts about Robert Lepage and making improvised work. This sort of ‘get up; help out and get on with it’ attitude was very much forged at Hope and, in many ways, is what I am still doing now.”
This motivational environment where people worked hard to attain goals, inspired Emma to take risks and pursue her passion.
She said: “Even back then, I knew that I wanted to facilitate introductions between artists, who might create work worth more than the sum of their parts, in the belief that this might reach a wider audience and create something truly inspiring.
“My training in fine art history and practice, teamed with a number of egalitarian theatre models learned during my course, certainly underpin my understanding of the world of art, what it means to be inside that world and the benefits it can bring individually and collectively.
“I loved my university life and that was in no small part because of the quality of Hope, my lecturers and the students I was surrounded by. The collegial feel of the campus made it easy to be comfortable and - bar a couple of tense library study carrel crams for exams - was an exceptional place to be.”
Now working as a self-employed contractor, Emma puts her talents to use as Director for the Liverpool Irish Festival. Her role involves supporting the festival, its audiences, artists and partners in finding ways of expressing Liverpool Irish creativity and history.
She said: “Liverpool is a fantastic city for arts and culture; it gets it. The Council recognise its importance to the health, wellbeing, communities and the economic market, which is great; but austerity and trying political and psychosocial times means there is less money for art, at exactly the time that it needs to be at its most vocal, risk-taking and visible. To date, we have looked at identity, making women visible, reproductive autonomy, the Irish language, voting rights and more much besides.
“It’s an honour to have a position in which I can support individual voices and engage so many people. In 2017, we had just shy of 10,000 at our events and worked with just almost 130 artists and 30 venues, celebrating the legacy and experience of the Liverpool, Liverpool Irish and Irish communities.”
Liverpool Irish Festival will take place between Thursday 18th – Sunday 28th October 2018. Find out more.