Hi I’m Kaitlyn, the Hires and Programmes Manager for Exim. Within my role for the organisation I manage the premises Exim is based in, Oxford House Creative Hub, as well as coordinating internal and external events, leading on our community and educational projects and most recently overseeing our current and upcoming training programmes as an organisation.
Photo Credit: Brett Lockwood
I have worked with Exim for 9 years, through my time studying at university, as an intern, a lead practitioner, coordinator and over the last couple of years, a manager. My time with the organisation has enabled me to experience a vast array of opportunities both within expanding my skill set and refining my practice with a broad engagement of service users. Something that I have always loved is the variety of work I am able to engage with and I feel this has really supported me in finding my specialism, and helped me get to where I am currently in my role. At present I specifically teach adolescent services users or young people from secondary age upwards.
Over the last couple of years I have had the pleasure of attending national events such as the Youth Justice and Sport conference in Birmingham as part of our engagement with Street Games, the Trauma Recovery UK Conference in Bath in February and most recently attending the national U.Dance festival from One Dance UK in Newcastle. Alongside this I have been provided the opportunity to undertake training such as becoming a trainer in Bystander Approaches with NSPCC at the start of 2022, the Scottish Ballet Moving Minds Conference in Glasgow last year and the People Dancing Summer Intensive last month in July. I am incredibly proud to work for an organisation that continues to invest in us as employees. All of these opportunities have allowed me to continue growing and developing but also to bring back new knowledge to implement into my current responsibilities and upcoming work that I will outline further on.
Alongside the above, I have also been undergoing a youth work qualification and have recently completed training to become a community research trainer as part of Exim’s engagement with the Belong in Plymouth Programme. These opportunities are supporting my role across several projects that aim to support young people in leadership, research and ambassador positions alongside our other community movement and social spaces. I am incredibly passionate about championing the voices of young people in our community, breaking down stereotyping and providing safe, fun and creative opportunities for them. The young people I have the joy to work with never cease to amaze me and I couldn’t advocate more for them as brilliant humans!
Photo Credit: Meier Williams
All of this joy and passion really underpins much of the coordination I undertake in my managerial responsibilities too! As mentioned above I organise our events and always have access and inclusivity at the forefront of my mind. At Exim we aim for people’s experiences to be well rounded, welcoming and friendly with people’s wellbeing and needs at the heart of everything we do, we want people to feel like they belong. This needs to be carried through everything we do and especially when people visit us at our events. I am now in the process of organising our 8th Traverse Youth Dance Platform; a twice a year event for youth companies from across the peninsula (Cornwall, Plymouth and Devon) to perform in The House Theatre on The University of Plymouth Campus. In April Traverse welcomed 122 young people to a sold out audience! Each year I am inspired and filled with joy at the tenacity and creativity of the young people we engage at these events. We recognise the importance of providing these spaces for celebration and marking success, not just for the young people but also the organisations, companies and practitioners that engage them and also the families and friends that support along the way. Alongside this we also host bi-monthly Scratch Night events for artists to share work at any stage of development and for members of the public to engage with a variety of art in a safe and playful event for free. We aim to remove barriers as much as possible within our services and this event truly is the epitome of communities coming together to support and celebrate one another. Creating spaces where people feel they can truly thrive is a huge motivator for me and I love working with people to do this.
Photo Credit: Brett Lockwood
As mentioned previously, I also manage our premises Oxford House Creative Hub, in Stonehouse. I adore being the face to the building, engaging with new and returning people/organisations on a daily basis. I love that we have been able to create a hub that brings people from across a huge variety of locations, services and backgrounds together, and that we are part of uniting and championing communities. It is wonderful to hear our space is bringing positivity into peoples days/weeks and that they feel safe and homely when here. In our current climate it is rare for people to have a true sense of belonging, something that we all have the right to feel. The premises saw 1301 bookings from companies/organisations and 306 from individuals last year, with this year’s engagement looking to be even higher. We always aim to communicate with people we engage with and wherever possible get feedback. This feedback is consistently showing us that not only are people in need of our services but also the safe haven in which we have created at Oxford House Creative Hub, with the above statistics showing this.
Photo Credit: Brett Lockwood
Alongside our services, Rhythm City’s sessions and external bookings in the space, we also run an artist space scheme in the premises to which a cohort of local artists get access to free space over the course of a year. We have just awarded a new cohort of artists for the next year 2023-24 (keep your eyes peeled for their announcements in the coming weeks) and have added even more support into the scheme next year. Over the next year artists will not only have access to networking and performance opportunities as before but also CPD (Career Professional Development) training opportunities, led by the Exim team, and access to mentoring sessions with our Strategic Operations lead, Anneliese Kesteven. We recognise that there is more support needed for local artists and from the work we do across the city have heard first hand that the above opportunities are sought after. One of the huge reasons we brought our Open Company Class sessions back was due to demand and I’m so pleased to be managing this as part of our artistic offer. My first engagement with Exim Dance was at an Open Company Class session at the University of Plymouth and now 9 years later I have just finished leading a term of classes full of beautiful movers and couldn’t be more delighted with my journey so far.
I love that within my role I am actively encouraged to listen and respond to feedback or needs that have been raised in our communities and respond to it appropriately within our approach as Exim. We are always looking to evolve and grow and this is definitely something that keeps me passionate in my role; the opportunity to continuously grow and learn as outlined earlier. Over the coming months we have even more in the pipeline in response to all of the above. We always ensure to fully research, plan and prepare our offers and so in my current role as Hires and Programmes Manager I’m very excited to be heading up even more artist opportunities in the future!
Stay tuned as we continue to release further artist opportunities and community engagement offers, I can’t wait to share more with you all in the near future!