Willow Placement @ National Theatre Wales

I'm in the office at NTW and have never written a blog in my life so here goes, in fact I have never tweeted although I do occasionally glance at Facebook, if I have the time, if I want to share information and probably when I need somebody to do something for me or want to rally the troops for the Gwent Theatre campaign. When I do spend time on it I discover a whole world that has passed me by. I was saddened to hear recently that a friend of mine had died, I knew he had been ill but not that ill.

I am spending three days shadowing John McGrath as part of a Women in Leadership (WILLOW) placement and I'm in completely new territory and a whole new world is unfolding before me. What the past 11 months of the course has afforded me is time to reflect. What does it mean to be a Leader? Are Leaders born or are they made? As a Leader do you lead from the front or do you serve from behind? Personally I believe a Leader should serve, I was brought up in Blackpool and being a seaside town we owned a guest house , so from a very early age I worked. Did my parents want children or staff? I ask myself. I washed up, I waited on tables and I cleaned bedrooms. The one thing I did learn from a young age was how to look after people, to smile be courteous to serve. I am currently enjoying watching Mary Portas lament the state of service in the UK.

I have spent the last 25 years working in schools and serving the community of Gwent and when ACW announced that they were no longer going to fund the Company. I felt angry that something that had been in existence for 35 years was to be decimated overnight, What will take its place? Did the Arts Council consider what affect this would have on the Gwent Community?, some of these people live in the poorest areas of western europe. We are still shocked that we don't have satisfactory answers. What has been amazing is the amount of support we have had from the young people in our youth theatre, the people in the local communities we serve, and great support from the 'Arts Community' at a time when people are afraid to stand up and shout for a fear of reprisal.

Spending this time with John and the people here at NTW, some of which are not paid to be here. They are here because they want to contribute in some way to the company. I am mindful of 'our communities' NTW have spent the last two years thinking about how to build a community in Wales and having spent the last 7 months asking Gwent's communities to do things for us, I am now wondering what we can do in way of thanks for all that help/time/energy.

Shadowing John has been an eyeopener, what does he do?, well from what I have observed over the last 3 days he meets people, he listens to them and gives them his time. He has given me a lot of his time. Sometimes we get wrapped up in our own lives, our own struggles but what do we give back?, what can I at Gwent theatre give back to thank all those people for all their help and support.

I met Kelly, who is one such person doing something for NTW and it's community and has just nudged my conscience. What do we use social networking for? Is it purely to deliver information or to build relationships with people? The people I have met recently I may not be able to see very often but I would like to maintain these new relationships, this new community. Might social networking be a way of keeping in touch with our Gwent community? If I ask for help what can I give back.

For me being a Leader is not about your position or your title, but how you serve people, how you give them your time.  And if I ever forget it.......someone please give me a nudge. 


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Comment by Jain Boon on April 15, 2011 at 16:44
I feel very blessed I have met some wonderful people recently, including yourself, and swopped stories. Here's to NTW indeed. See you soon
Comment by Kelly Page on April 15, 2011 at 15:49
Jain, wonderful words ... and wonderful questions ... let us both thank the 'hotdesk' in NTW's castle arcade office across which we first connected and exchanged stories. Looking forward to seeing you again on Monday and hearing all about your trip to poland! Smiles Kelly :-))
Comment by National Theatre Wales on February 5, 2011 at 12:41
Jain, this is a hell of a first blog.  Thought provoking, inspiring!  I think now you've been let loose on the blogsphere there will be no stopping you!  Do keep using this site to keep everyone up to date with your work.  It's been great having you around with your gentle, searching questions.  Let's make this the start of something.

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