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University Women in the Arts scheme offers mentoring to 15 students

Vicky Featherstone. Photo: Mark Hamilton Vicky Featherstone. Photo: Mark Hamilton
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A lifestyle blogger and the head of Oxford University Dramatic Society are among 15 female students to be mentored by leading creative women in an attempt to get more women working in the arts.

The University Women in the Arts scheme will see mentors including Vicky Featherstone, Jude Kelly and Tamara Rojo provide advice and support for women looking to gain a foothold in theatre, music, art or dance.

Organisers hope it will close a gap between the percentage of female arts workers and the number of women who attend arts courses at university.

More than 70% of the students at University of the Arts London are female, which the scheme’s organisers claim is a similar figure for other institutions in the UK.

Despite this, recent figures show only 31% of professional playwrights are women.

Data from Tonic Theatre in 2013 showed almost 60% of graduates from directing courses were female, but women make up just a quarter of all theatre directors.

Blogger Maria Roberts and OUDS president Helena Jackson are two of the 15 winners selected to receive the support, in a list that includes four Oxbridge students, a Rambert dancer and a woman who runs a youth arts engagement charity.

Tonic Theatre director Lucy Kerbel, who helped set up the scheme and will mentor one of the students, said there was “no one silver bullet” to solve the underrepresentation of women in the arts.

But she added the scheme was “a practical way in which some of the imbalances in the trajectories of male and female arts graduates could be addressed”.

She went on: “Young women who are keen to build careers in the arts often have to look harder for role models than their male counterparts.

“Consequently, a programme such as this which connects female students with trailblazing women is hugely valuable because it makes it all the easier for them to visualise themselves in top roles.”

The 15 students selected for the scheme:

  • Zoe Bailey, Bath Spa University, who is also sales manager for Bath Festivals and works as an associate director at Bath Theatre
  • Alice Brazil Burns, Warwick University, who was awarded the Undergraduate Research Support Scheme Bursary from the theatre, performance and cultural policy studies department at the University of Warwick, and is a recipient of the outstanding achiever award from the Almeida Theatre
  • Eleanor Colville, University of Cambridge, who created an all-female Smoker for the Footlights at Cambridge University
  • Alice Evans, Chelsea College of Art, who has overcome schizophrenia to pursue a PHD in Fine Art Film
  • Jennifer Davidson, Bolton University, who studies for a PhD while looking after three small children
  • Titilola Ige, Central Saint Martins, who runs her own charity Reaching Higher, helping young people, in addition to writing and producing
  • Helena Jackson, University of Oxford, who is president of the Oxford University Dramatic Society
  • Vanessa Kang, the Open University, who dances with Rambert
  • Alys Key, University of Oxford/City University, who was the editor of the Oxford Student Newspaper and won the Philip Geddes Prize for student journalism
  • Catherine Milne, Central Saint Martins, who was the former head of development for Lynda La Plante’s production company before taking a break to have children
  • Daniela Monasterios, London College of Fashion, whose company Mash-Up has collaborated with Top Shop among others in Singapore
  • Katherine Press, Falmouth University, who was also president of the Marlowe Society at the University of Cambridge
  • Maria Roberts, Manchester Metropolitan University, who won best personal blog at the Manchester Literature Festival
  • Gretha Viana, Central Saint Martins, an Emmy-nominated producer from Brazil who is now trying to become a writer in the UK
  • Jingan Young, Kings College London, who runs an unfunded company Pokfulam Road Productions as well as pursuing her PhD

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