Arts Council of Northern Ireland

The Funding and Development Agency
for The Arts in Northern Ireland

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Kelly Razey, Q-Step Summer Research Placement

Friday 10th September 2021 at 11am 0 Comments

We caught up with Kelly Razey, Criminology student in the school of Social Science, Education and Social Work at Queens University, Belfast who recently undertook a placement with the research team at the Arts Council, thanks to the Q-Step Summer Research Placement scheme.

Q-Step is a £19.5 million programme designed to promote a step-change in quantitative social science training. Over a five-year period, fifteen universities across the UK are delivering specialist undergraduate programmes, including new courses, work placements and pathways to postgraduate study. The placements give students the opportunity to apply their research skills training in a "real world" work environment.

”I am about to embark upon my third year as a Criminology student in the school of Social Science, Education and Social Work at Queens University, Belfast. Just as I finished my second year, I expressed an interest in taking part in the Q-Step Work Placements Scheme. This is a programme that gives students the opportunity to apply the research skills that have learnt on the Q-Step programme to a ‘real world’ work environment.

I was placed with the Arts Council Northern Ireland, specifically the Strategic Development and Partnerships department. My mentor for my time was Karly Greene, the Director of this department.

What an amazing experience it has been. I genuinely cannot believe this is the last day of my 3-week placement. During my first week we had a MS Teams meeting so I could meet the rest of the team. I was fortunate enough to have met Karly for an informal chat before my placement had started, so felt at ease straight away seeing a familiar face. Not that I needed to have worried at all as all the team were equally as welcoming and made me feel part of their team straight away.

My first task was given to me by Matthew Malcom the Creative Industries Officer. I was to carry out a case study for the Creative Industries Seed Fund. I selected two companies. Place to Wonder Theatre Company and Big Telly Theatre Company. Place to Wonder are an immersive theatre company who had an amazing idea to turn their children’s story book into an animation series. Their idea was to use storytelling as a tool to translate mindfulness in a child centred language. The Creative Industries Seed Fund allowed them to collaborate with Flickerpix to create a 48 second trailer that they could showcase to potential television companies. I got to interview Samantha from Place to Wonder via Zoom. The experience of interviewing, translating the interview and then writing up my findings has enhanced my skillset, enabling me to confidently use these skills in my upcoming dissertation in my third year of university.

I got to further improve upon these newly acquired skills with my next case study, Big Telly Theatre Company. I was fortunate enough to interview Zoe Seaton, the Artistic Director and Linda McCracken the Project Manager of Big Telly Theatre Company. Thanks to the Creative Industries Seed Fund their ‘Incognito’ project is about to launch this coming Saturday 21st August across the streets of Armagh. ‘Incognito’ is a fragmented reality game experience, which is a cross between live theatre and a multiplayer game. It is such a unique idea that has such expansive possibilities. By collaborating with Scaffold Digital, their app was bought to life. The passion for their project really did shine through in their interview.

I was also given an amazing opportunity to do some verbatim coding with a woman who has the patience of a saint. Orla Murphy via MS Teams taught me how to do coding. I have to say once I got the hang of it, I really enjoyed it and it is a skill I will definitely not forget and hope to improve upon and use more in the future.

One of my final projects was for Graeme Stevenson. I got to research and produce a report on the environmental impacts of the Arts. This was one of the most interesting aspects of my time with the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, as I had never considered when attending a festival or concert the impact these events could have on our environment.

My time on this placement has gone far to quickly. I have not only learnt new skills but enhanced my current skillset. I have met some amazing people who have specialist knowledge in their field of expertise. They took the time out of their busy schedules to support and encourage me in my academic journey. This has been an invaluable experience that I would highly recommend to other students.

Thank you everyone I met whilst on my placement who enabled me to succeed these past weeks, but most of all thank you to the great team in the Strategic Development and Partnerships department taking time out of your very busy schedules to help me develop and grow not only my skillset but my confidence too.”

ACNI Strategic perspective

The team were really keen to explore a placement opportunity, recognising the value this would bring to our work and team. We are keen to continue to build our relationships with universities and give opportunities to students to practically apply their skills in a workplace. We have a substantial research and evaluation programme this year, ensuring we provide timely evidence at speed to inform policy and decisions to support our arts and cultural sector in NI.

We worked with Queens University Belfast and realised the Q-Step Summer Research Placement scheme was a perfect match for the type of skills we required. They had students with quantitative research skills and data analysis and were flexible to suit the employer/project.

We wanted to ensure we had a meaningful project for Kelly to engage with for her short time with us. It can be so difficult for employers during busy times to see the wood from the trees but we are so pleased to have been involved in this scheme. This did not only benefit Kelly, but also us. Kelly was able to support our Creative Industries Officer and Research and Policy officers on key outputs and was able to work remotely and independently. If all social science research graduates are the same calibre as Kelly, then the future of research and data is very exciting!

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