Reflecting on my experience as a Festival Assistant Intern

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by Reece Stock

My name is Reece, and I recently had the opportunity to join the Spitalfields Music team on a two-week micro-internship over the course of the 2023 festival period. This internship was available to me as a BA History and Politics graduate from Queen Mary University of London, where Spitalfields Music now calls home – having relocated their offices there earlier this year.

My time as a Festival Assistant Intern started on the very same day as the festival – which was a double bill at St Leonard’s Church in Shoreditch featuring a moving exploration of protest songs by A Line in the Sand, followed by uplifting ditties from the folk band Kabantu.

In my varied role, I began my day by assisting the producers to set up for the evening’s concerts, putting out chairs and helping artists with their kit. Then, once doors opened, I switched to a front-of-house role, welcoming visitors to the festival, handing out programmes, and promoting the work of Spitalfields Music.

Although it was my first time in a front-of-house role of this kind, I felt well supported by the Spitalfields Music team and the many well-trained stewards. Most of whom are veterans of the festival, returning every year to help steward the many concerts in the festival’s programme.

The next morning, I was up bright and early for a walking tour of Limehouse where I had the chance to mingle with festival goers, many of which were fellow east Londoners, and find out more about what has drawn them to the festival over the years. After taking a register, I handed over to our fantastic tour guide from East London on Foot who took us on a lovely two and half hour walk around the docklands, imparting knowledge of its maritime history as well as its many intriguing secrets.

Later in the festival, I had the exciting opportunity to steward a concert in the Church of St Peter ad Vincula within the beautiful grounds of the Tower of London. As a history graduate this was the highlight of the festival for me, especially as the concert included recitations of poetry written by Anne Boleyn herself, who was executed mere metres away.

As someone who both grew up and studied in east London, this internship provided the perfect opportunity to get out into my community and learn more about the world of arts and culture right on my doorstep. The front-of-house nature of the work gave me a chance to shore up my confidence and interpersonal skills, something which I felt was needed after spending so much time interacting with the world through Zoom and shielding at home for months on end during the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, this experience has given me the confidence to go for similar front-of-house roles in the future, something which I had not previously considered.

I would recommend this internship to any current student or recent graduate who is looking to gain some experience over the summer and develop their skills. It will give you the chance to work with an enthusiastic team of people and expose yourself to a range of new musical styles and experiences. Although this internship will appeal in particular to those with a background in music, it is by no means a necessity, as it provides anyone the opportunity to improve on their communication, teamwork and interpersonal skills. Who could possibly pass up on the chance of an internship with a front row seat to an entire music festival?

Copyright James Berry