Maya's diary 

Hello! I’m Maya, a recent graduate of Liberal Arts (History of Art) from the University of Birmingham. I am passionate about the role and importance of arts in communities. I have also loved playing music ever since I started violin lessons at school, aged 6, just like many children that take part in music with Severn Arts! Severn Arts perfectly matches my interests and values, as I believe that art and music should be inclusive and accessible to all children and members of the community. I am so thrilled to have had the opportunity to support and develop my skills within this fantastic organisation.  

My internship 

I have just completed my internship as Project Coordinator, having worked exclusively on the Worcestershire Royal Hospital Urgent & Emergency Care Department Mural Project. I applied for this role through the University of Birmingham’s B-Experienced Internships scheme, which offers UoB students and graduates paid opportunities to engage in impactful knowledge exchanges and develop professional skills with local organisations.  

Severn Arts were incredibly welcoming from the very start, and I have had the opportunity to develop a range of skills that will support my search for further employment, including administration, marketing, communication, project evaluation, and creativity.  

I worked for 2 days a week for 20 days in total, meaning that I was able to gain an insight into the project as a whole from start to completion. Here is what I did throughout: 

Weeks 1-2 

From my very first day in the office, the Severn Arts team were super welcoming and kind, and I felt immediately integrated as part of the team. During the first 2 weeks, Elaine (Arts Director) and I met Emily Kaye Illustration (the commissioned artist) and Sophie (Worcestershire Acute Hospitals Charity) to visit the mural-to-be outside the new Urgent & Emergency Care Department at Worcestershire Royal Hospital for the first time. I took photos and notes on topics discussed, new ideas, potential issues, and items that would need following up. This was really exciting, as it was when the project really started to feel real, and there was lots to get started on! 

From the very beginning, I started discussing with Elaine how best to approach the evaluation of the project, creating monitoring sheets and conducting research on similar arts and health projects. I read through the Arts Council England funding application and updated the project’s budget. I created the first social media post “Introducing the artist”. This was the most challenging social media post, as I had to come up with an initial design template, using correct logos and wording, which had to be signed off by all the different project partners. 

Weeks 3-7 

Going to Severn Arts’ All Staff Meeting was very interesting, allowing me to meet the staff, teachers, and Trustees, and also giving me an insight into the organisations’ finances and strategic direction for the next 3 years. We also had a fascinating presentation by the musician John Kelly, about the importance of inclusivity in arts and music. It inspired me to think about how accessibility can be embedded in projects and organisations, rather than added only as a “bolt-on”, as John describes it. This was also super informative for the Mural Project, since one of our key aims was to make it as accessible and inclusive as possible.  

To aid with this, one important part of the project was when Emily Kaye Illustration ran co-creation workshops – I was able to attend one of these, and it was so interesting seeing how Emily picked the brains of NHS staff to gather ideas and stories about their experiences of Worcestershire. It resulted in some dramatic design changes, such as a refocusing from Worcestershire’s landmarks to showing more relatable activities, since we found out that many staff members were new to the area and thus did not resonate so much with Worcestershire’s landmarks. We also explored the possibility of making the mural accessible to people with visual impairments, such as integrating braille or raised surfaces, however this was limited by budget and time constraints. Nonetheless, after consulting a registered blind user, Emily found out that one great way to make art accessible is through bold, bright colours – which would definitely be a highlight of the design. 

In these weeks, I also created and sent out an invitation for the Launch Event that would celebrate the unveiling of the mural and the opening of the new Urgent & Emergency Care Department. I continued making social media posts, including a reel later on unveiling the finished mural, as well as a questionnaire which was used in the co-creation workshops. After Emily finalised the mural design, I regularly visited the site to take progress photos, which was so exciting to see. She was even interviewed on site by BBC Hereford and Worcester radio! I transcribed this interview, to be put up onto the Severn Arts website. 

Weeks 7-10 

After the event launch – which had a good turnout and was interesting and rewarding – I continued to work on the project evaluation. This included the final Evaluation Report which contained a summary of how the project achieved its aims, its strengths and weaknesses, as well as recommendations for future projects. Additionally, I wrote discussion prompts which Elaine and I used in interviews with the artist and the partners on their experience of collaborating on the project. I then transcribed their responses and fed key points into the Evaluation Report to come up with strengths, weaknesses, and recommendations for future partnerships. I also wrote a press release which revealed a photo of the final mural. It is so rewarding to have worked on a project that will hopefully contribute to improving patients’ and staff’s experience at the new Emergency Department. I am even more excited to pursue further projects that mobilise art to improve health and wellbeing.  

To summarise, some key aspects of my role included: 
  • Email communications, collating RSVPs, acting as a contact point for invitees and donors. 
  • Creating a workshop questionnaire, drafting interview questions, and writing the evaluation report. 
  • Media and marketing: writing a press release, creating and posting regular social media content, photography. 
  • Supporting workshop delivery. 
My advice for future interns! 
  • Jot down reflections as you go along (a few notes at the end of each day goes a long way!) to remind yourself of your impressions and learnings. Collate all your work so that you have a folder to look back on when you finish. This will be useful for updating your CV too! 
  • Always keep communication lines open by CC’ing appropriate contacts in emails, this helps everyone stay in the loop and saves time!
  • Connect with people and find out their background, and don’t be afraid to ask questions – the team are super friendly and will be happy to talk to you!