Learning the arts in a supportive role: Eliza writes

Earlier this year we were joined by the brilliant Eliza as our Admin Assistant here at HQ (and sometimes out on projects, wearing other Coney hats). Eliza is a maker and performer alongside her work with us at Coney – and 8 months into her role here, she reflects on some of the ways those two lives inform one another. We’ll let Eliza take it away:

I started at Coney just over 8 months ago, it’s been a steep learning curve that I count myself extremely lucky to have had the opportunity to experience.

After leaving university in 2018, I set about trying to get as close as possible to the processes by which art is made, and the people doing it. In this sense, Coney was a lighthouse I was happy to discover. On this mission, I’ve been an Admin Assistant, House Manager, Production Coordinator, Social Media Whiz, Project Assistant, and all-round General Help-er.

Starting as Admin Assistant at Coney, I couldn’t have prepared myself for the nourishment my artists’ brain would receive. I’ve not only been taught and nurtured in vital skills for the behind the scenes running of an arts company, but also invited into conversations about programming, writing, devising, and playing.

Of course, speaking to the uniqueness of a Coney job, I’ve also partaken in conversations about Climate Change, John Soane’s Museum, heat-resistant silicone, and the kinds of mammals that can and can’t jump. Producers, Managers and Artists at Coney are generous with their time, knowledge and fun facts.

In brief, high on my list of Coney lessons are:  

1.Take the time to consider your impact. I have always left a Coney experience with a renewed desire to be better for the world. The desire to be different is not necessarily unique to Coney. I’ve certainly been to many shows where I’ve left wanting to be kinder, say sorry, say yes more, say no more, be braver. But Coney’s practice has a way of sweeping away the irrelevant furniture of our lives, keeping the context that matters and making space for us as ‘learners’. In this way, the art starts to build a foundation in us that allows us to be more responsible and responsive to our world. Coney creates change and the agents of change. Being close to this has sown the seeds for a longer reflection on how I can more profoundly consider the impact of my work on audiences and this deeply troubled and troubling world.

2. Make the time to support other artists, be useful, be generous and always accept generosity. Coney’s offer to independent artists – even if it’s a single cuppa to talk about practice or a project – is rare and important and makes our industry kinder and therefore more sustainable. I hope to take part and pay this forward, sometime in the future.

After 8 months, what is clear is that now, in my maker’s brain/ at my dream dinner party:  Patti smith mingles with Bernie de Koven, Stewart Lee sits plotting a tour of “the metropolitan liberal elite” via my smart phone, Elizabeth Bishop’s gossamer poetry slips in and around systems theory, and my long-held desire to be a world-famous contemporary dancer must now reconcile with a burning ambition to learn how to code.

Find out more about Eliza here – and if you’d ever like to get in touch with anyone at HQ, give us a knock. We’d love to say hello.

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