Every month we've decided to highlight a staffer here at Youth Music. Jana accidentally volunteered so here's a nice snapshot into her career so far and her current work as Grants and Learning Officer.
Tell us about your career history to date
I’ve always worked within the arts. As a teenager growing up in Beirut, I worked every summer as a youth leader in summer and after school programmes. I also taught arts and crafts to children as my part time job throughout uni. After graduation I got a job programming and managing a friends’ community café and then as a gallery assistant in Beirut’s most prominent contemporary art space.
Sadly, the situation in Lebanon kept getting worse so I moved to the UK and started over in London. I still wanted to work within arts and culture in particular within the performing arts so like many other young people I spent months and months applying to internships until I finally got one at the Old Vic Tunnels. Those three months at the Tunnels were amazing. I was really thrown into the deep end, learning all at once about British culture and the arts landscape in London which was obviously very different from the one in Beirut. I discovered immersive theatre and (European) contemporary dance, got to work backstage on some amazing gigs and landed my first freelance assistant production role. From there, I worked as a freelance production assistant and fundraiser, all the while trying to find a full time job within the arts.
I decided to join an MA programme a few years into my time in London as it seemed like the best way to get my foot in the door. After graduating I worked for an amazing female-led contemporary circus company Mimbre, first as an admin, then as manager to their youth programme and somehow ended up doing a lot of comms and fundraising for their work. I continued to support artists with writing funding bids in a freelance capacity, so when it was time to do something new, working within the fundraising sector seemed like the obvious choice.I was particularly interested in gaining experience on the other side of the process, and that’s how I ended up at Youth Music.
I realise how much my path has zigzagged across different sectors, roles and countries! I used to think of it as a weakness but now I see it as a strength.
How have you found your new role as G&L Officer?
I’ve always wanted a big work family so was I really excited to start working with 20 people (and Buzz). I was at YM office for three weeks before lockdown started so I got to know my role, colleagues and grantholders online. It’s certainly unconventional but its been great. I find this role rewarding and fulfilling and really enjoy supporting grant holders with their projects. There is also so much brilliance within Youth Music so I’m learning something new every day.
What's the best thing about working for Youth Music?
My colleagues, the wonderful people I’m meeting through my portfolio, and without sounding disingenuous, I really value that Youth Music is a positive employer. When I worked at Mimbre the standards were very high, the environment was supportive, work life balance was understood, and I was paid in accordance the London living wage. I felt like a valued member of the company. My biggest anxiety when moving jobs was that I would not be able to match that kind of environment. I’m really privileged to have been offered this role just before lock down and that Youth Music has really stepped up and supported us through really trying times. (Thank you!)
What do you like to do outside of work?
Pre-corona days - I tried to experience London’s cultural offer as much as possible. I have a particular affinity for contemporary dance so I spend quite a lot of time at Sadler’s Wells and The Place. I’m also a podcast fanatic and will spend hours listening to stuff. I’m a big fan of shows about culture, politics, and crime. Right now I'm listening to ‘How Did This Get Made’, it’s silly but it really makes me laugh. I also spend a lot of time doting over my two cats Hilda (the calico) and Zelda (the black one) - both pictured below for your enjoyment. :)