EMERGING ARTIST: SAMMY HOLDEN
The Old Courts is much more than just a venue – we are an organisation who are passionate about helping emerging artists to improve their skills, showcase their talents and connect with the community for a wider audience. Who is Sammy Holden? Sammy Holden is a twenty-seven-year-old Film Producer who started volunteering at The Old Courts in 2017. She graduated from The University of Central Lancashire in 2013 after studying Film Production. As well as continuing to collaborate with The Old Courts, she has gone on to study for her PGCE at Edge Hill University and is due to graduate later this year. How did The Old Courts support Sammy as a volunteer? Sammy Holden first joined The Old Courts as a volunteer when we were recommended to her by an existing volunteer. She initially began work as a volunteer in The Isherwood Gallery and at many other events, from theatre productions, to gigs and ticket sales. We asked Sammy how she felt about the support The Old Courts gave her while she was volunteering with us: ‘The Old Courts is a very comfortable place to volunteer, I always feel safe and supported and the level of communication is always top notch. I have never felt that there wasn't anybody there to support me whenever I've been looking for help. I believe that I began volunteering at the right time. It was through this volunteer work I gained the confidence to go into teaching which is going to become my career. As well as this, having a connection with the Courts allows me to work on different projects constantly, which I find very valuable as a showcase of my skills.’ How have The Old Courts continued to support Sammy? Sammy then went on to advance from a purely volunteer role, to shadowing another artist, Megan Porter, on her Play in A Day event which was hosted at The Old Courts. This is a great example of The Old Courts supporting artists by introducing them to other artists and helping them expand their network. We asked Sammy to tell us a little about her experience with Play in A Day: ‘Meeting Meg during Play in A Day meant that I forged a connection with her which then led to working with her on The Young Courts theatre project and with Film in A Day. The young people attending were all very enthusiastic and the planning of the day meant that it went off without a hitch. All attendees seemed thrilled to present their work to their friends and family’ As mentioned in her quote, Sammy went on to work with Megan on both The Young Courts Theatre project, a youth theatre group began and supported by The Old Courts, and Film in A Day, which was Sammy’s own project. This involved her collaborating with young artists from the community to script, cast and film a short film within one session. We asked Sammy how she felt The Old Courts supported her during the project: ‘I felt really humbled to be offered the chance to lead my own workshop, directly before I began teaching. I included this experience in the documentation that has aided in my achievement of a Distinction for my final grade [at university]. My assistants were extremely capable and useful, I definitely could not have completed the day without their help or without the wider help of Courts staff such as Derek, as the complexity of the set-up meant that I would have had to be in multiple places at once. Working on Film in A Day, the whole process of it, has left me with the eagerness to hold more workshops of my own at the Courts and I hope I get to do that.’ What is Sammy up to at the moment? Alongside long-time Volunteer, Martin Spencer, Sammy has just embarked on a new project here at The Old Courts, The Wigan Autistic Theatre Company. This is an inclusive theatre company for anyone over 18 of any level of ability, but with an emphasis on those with Autism. Seeing an opportunity to engage an underrepresented part of the community, Sammy and Martin created the group with the support of The Old Courts. The project was launched on the 10th July with their first session occurring on the 16th July. We asked Sammy to tell us about her expectations for the group: 'Although WATC is Martin's baby, we are co-founders of the group. I enjoy working with Martin as his outlook is very creative and his ambitions are major, I feel like we're a good creative team and although the process is long and involved, the group should pull off a wonderful show. It has already managed to surprise me, and I intend to do all I can to see the group succeed.’ The Old Courts are committed to supporting them with the project and to helping them grow by offering free rehearsal space, and once the group is ready, a place to perform the plays they create. We believe that engaging with the community is the best way to spot new emerging artists and support them. Thank you Sammy, you are a pleasure to work with!