August 4, 2003, (near) Tikrit, Iraq
© Geert van Kesteren
Courtesy the artist
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BPB and me

18.11.10 | Leah Bartczak

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Leah Bartczak adjusting prints at 'A Night in Argentina', University of Brighton Gallery
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Leah Bartczak and fellow bursary recipients at DCMS Jerwood Creative Bursary Scheme launch in London, with Ed Vaizey MP

Two months at the Brighton Photo Biennial have flown by already and this fledgling Project Co-ordinator has tried her hand at a range of new things. Thrown in at the deep end, I spent my first day of work at a disused 1930’s department store. The exhibition New Ways of Looking was to be installed at the former Co-op on London Road, Brighton, and I was to go on-site for an afternoon, to lend a hand. My head was spinning on day 1 with the sheer pace at which things move in the world of arts festivals and event co-ordination. One thing I knew instantly was that I was going to love the variety of tasks that a Project Co-ordinator undertakes and that I could learn plenty from the hard-working people around me.

Like my colleagues, I have been no stranger to hard work throughout my studies and have volunteered extensively and worked in the third and public sectors to gain relevant experience. As I find past experiences and studies useful in my new role, I feel am seeing the fruits of my labour. The range of tasks at hand has been broad in the past two months, from running gallery exercises with young people on the Viewfinder and You’ve Been Framed education projects, to handling photographic work at some of the five exhibition sites, retouching images in Photoshop, responding to image requests from national publications, writing up the visitor evaluation reports and utilising basic office admin skills amongst other things… not to mention the ‘chore’ of dinner at Hotel du Vin with one of my photographic heroes Martin Parr and Magnum/HP employees! All in the first two months!

Having put myself through photography studies in college and university and working on both an unpaid and paid basis throughout my courses, interning after graduation is simply no longer an option for me. I was truly beginning to think that there is no way into the arts for people from lower income families who cannot afford to work for free after graduation and who are repaying student debts and loans. However, DCMS Jerwood Creative Bursaries Scheme has made my role possible through funding and their selection criteria ensures that in this national climate of short-sighted arts cuts, graduates from low-income families can be part of the arts. Above all else I am excited to feel inspired every day by the people I meet, the art that I see and the positivity and resolve that the local arts network are maintaining.

Monday mornings are exciting when you like your job and I can happily say, I like my job!

Follow my experiences as a DCMS Jerwood bursary recipient at www.twitter.com/leahbartczak