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Hello there! I’m Grace, and I work for Open Theatre Company as a Creative Enabler, and I participated in Arts Connect’s ‘Creative Digital Leadership Programme’ in 2021.

We work nonverbally, which inspired me to create a nonverbal project during the programme. I had always been interested in the idea of making our online content more accessible to our nonverbal audiences, but had not had the opportunity to explore this previously. By attending the sessions, and meeting with my mentor, Ju, we explored ways to make this happen. Through lots of prototyping (which was a completely new thing for me) and regular reflection, I decided to create a film describing what our company does. This film would be nonverbal and would live on the home page of our website – ultimately making our website more accessible. It was a challenge to describe something nonverbally, but viewers felt that it was really effective in describing the company, our work, and the impact that the work has on the young people we work with.

Working in this way forced me to rethink ways I usually do things, and enabled me to take new approaches to projects; prototyping ideas and consulting with our young people at the very start of a project – as there is no one else that knows our work better than they do! It has also inspired me to explore how to make more of our online content nonverbal – perhaps leading to a fully nonverbal website and social media platforms in the future, and paving the way for other organisations to do the same.

The programme had so much to offer – as it gave us a detailed walkthrough of the incredible world of technology, whilst also introducing us to so many inspiring people! I had a great amount of support from the course leaders, speakers and my mentor, and now feel a lot more inclined to involve digital aspects in my upcoming projects, with a strong network, toolkit and skillset behind me.

I feel that it is vital that more people in the Creative Industries explore the digital world. Digital is ever-growing and ever-changing, is quite possibly the future of the arts, and due to recent times, it has been the only way for many people to continue their creative practices for a while. Therefore, I highly recommend this immensely valuable and thoroughly enjoyable programme to anyone, at any stage of their career.

Grace Smith, Open Theatre Company    

Read more about Open Theatre Company by clicking here.