Inka Romani, programming intern
Inka works as a programming intern at Sadler's Wells in a role which is part-funded by the Creative Employment Programme. So what exactly does programming involve and what skills can you learn? This Is It! spoke to her to find out.
I am originally from Spain and now live in London.
What's your background?
Before I started working at Sadler's Wells I was studying and doing other smaller work placements in dance festivals.
I am currently still studying Communications at university, which I now do alongside my internship.
I also have a dance background. I've trained as a dancer for a long time, so it’s a lot to organise.
Why did you want to work at Sadler's Wells?
Dance is my passion and an area I am keen to keep developing. The idea of being at Sadler’s Wells, one of the most amazing venues for dance in the world, was very exciting.
Sadler's Wells is a very important institution, not just in terms of their programming, which is very special, but also because of some of the projects they are involved in. There are other venues that only focus on one type of dance, but here it’s very open to all styles and that’s great.
You get a good a perspective of how many people are involved in just one show.
As a dancer, seeing what happens behind-the-scenes is very interesting. It’s massive and you get a good a perspective of how many people are involved in just one show.
What made me want to apply here is that it is much more than just a theatre. It’s a venue where a lot of things happen, from events to research projects.
What does your internship involve?
I help the whole of the programming department. The department is divided into two: one side is the artistic programming and the other part is more logistics-based. When it’s very busy, it’s my role to support whoever needs extra help.
To give an example, for our Flamenco festival I’m helping the programme coordinator. My role is to collect companies from the airport and prepare everything they need for their arrival. This includes welcome packs, preparing the dressing rooms and making sure security have a list of everyone from the company with a schedule of what they are doing.
Get as much information as you can about the place you are working. Don’t just wait to be told what to do.
There is sometimes a party on the opening night, which the programming department will organise. There are certain duties that are always the same, but as there is such a range of companies, both UK-based and international, every day is different.
I then help the other side of the department more with artistic research and development. So I research companies or festivals that could be interesting for our theatre programme. I also deal with email enquiries from other companies who are interested in performing here.
The best bit about my role is being able to watch every show. As we have three different theatres, in one week there could be three different shows going on. It’s exciting to be able to go to see everything you want to.
What skills have you learned?
I had never worked in an office before, so I have learnt quite a lot. I hadn't even used email for work, so managing all that information and working out what is relevant to me has been new.
I have also learnt about prioritising my time. There are days where you need to be in meetings and in the office, so it can be quite intense and busy.
I have also been improving my English. I am from Spain originally, so my English wasn’t as good when I started.
Being in a working environment has meant I have had to push myself to make sure I am understood and have to focus on what people are saying. It’s been really good to be able to improve on that.
I’ve had so many highlights. Being a dancer myself, it’s been amazing to be around so many important dancers.
After some of the shows you can meet the artists and ask them questions.
I remember giving a tour of our dance studios and seeing Tamara Rojo, the artistic director of the English National Ballet, rehearsing alone in one of the studios.
Seeing these amazing dancers performing is something I could never have imagined. After some of the shows you can meet the artists and ask them questions, so that’s really good too.
Have you faced any challenges?
I think most challenges have been related to communication. I was quite familiar with the dance world, but not as confident with language. Working in such a big organisation you need to be very clear in what you are saying.
I remember when I started I found making phone calls quite hard, but it’s just confidence that you need to build up little by little. I think that is how you learn. I feel a massive difference from then to now.
Has your internship helped your future career?
Absolutely, I have discovered so many roles that I didn’t know existed. It’s encouraging for me to have a clear perspective of what I could do after.
I used to imagine people working in theatre, but I didn’t know much about the different departments such as programming, producing or touring.
It’s influenced my dancing too. I have seen so many things that have opened new possibilities to my dance practice.
Any advice for working as an intern?
My advice would be to just go ahead and don’t be scared. When you start at a new place, keep that curiosity and try to learn more than they teach you.
Get as much information as you can about where you are working and don’t just wait to be told what to do. Try to figure out what you as an individual and the things you have done before can bring to this new placement.
In my first month I was just trying to get information and then, when I felt more confident, I started to be more proactive.
It was a nice feeling knowing I could also offer something to my role. I think that everyone can bring new things to a job.
Learn more about This Is It!, an online network run for and by young people starting out their careers in the creative industries.