3rd Act Critic Barbara Michaels gives a personal response to being a critic with Get the Chance.
With over half a century of reviewing under my belt, I can hardly remember a time when I wasn’t passionate about both music and theatre. This was intensified when I got my first job on a local paper. I was eighteen, as the most junior member of the staff – and the only female in the days when women on newspapers were few and far between. I was expected to cover tasks such as weddings, flower shows and (to my delight) amateur dramatics.
This was a wonderful training ground which led to me covering professional theatre on my second paper. My big break came later, when I was working freelance and also running a syndication agency. The reviewer covering a first night ballet performance at the Royal Opera House at Covent Garden was ill and asked if I could do it. I have always loved dance but had never previously reviewed a dance production so cut my teeth on the Creme de la Creme. To this day dance is my favourite of all the art forms and – like all the arts – underfunded, if I had the money (which, as an OAP, I don’t) I would support.
Opera in Wales is still regarded by some as only for the elite. This is far from being the case. Please give it a try! We are so fortunate in Wales to have the WNO – a world-class opera company performing in a wonderful venue. Their production of Richard Strauss’s Der Rosenkavalier, which I reviewed recently, was as near perfection as you are ever likely to see.
Life is busy for me. As well as reviewing I edit a community magazine and last year published my first book for young children, entitled WHAT’S THE MATTER WITH SLITHERS? The publication of the book, shortly;to be featured in a Cardiff book festival, coincided with the birth of my first great granddaughter Chloe Jo, and I am now expecting another great grandchild.
Get the Chance works to support a diverse range of members of the public to access and respond to sport and cultural provision . 3rd Act Critic Helen Joy gives a personal response in the video and article below on her reasons for being a member of our team.
Hi ….. can you give our readers some background information on yourself please?
Crikey, here goes: after first degree in Geography and politics aeons ago, was self-employed as a graphic designer and printer in Cardiff. This went wrong. Very wrong. After a bankruptcy and divorce and the completion of Foundation Arts and Design, I then joined a contact centre answering calls for National Rail Enquiries and ended up working for this international contracts organisation for 12 years, eventually leading their off-shoring programme to India.
Some time later and for reasons various, I returned to South Wales, took a Masters in Fine Art at Cardiff Met Uni and started keeping pigs. So what got you interested in the arts ?
Nothing got me interested in the Arts – I was always drawing, making and painting for as long as I can remember. But, like many of us, I followed other people’s dreams and not my own for much of my life. I dipped in and out of the Arts at points but it is only now that I feel able to justify spending so much more time as a fine artist, writer and illustrator. I also work as an artist-facilitator, specialising in art classes for older people. How did you get involved with 3rd Act Critics
Through a community arts project run by A3, I met Guy O’Donnell and saw his work on encouraging young and old to become critics and reviewers in Wales, fulfilling a national need. This opportunity to start pulling together the skills I had acquired over the years with my love of all things arty was too good to miss.
It has given me the confidence to produce articles on smallholding, arts and life in general for publication. Through this, in part, I have had invitations to speak at events, collaborate on books and exhibit my own drawings.
Helen participating in a playwriting workshop at the Wales Millennium Centre
Get the Chance works to support a diverse range of members of the public to access cultural provision . You as a 3rd Act Critic are one of the groups Get the Chance supports. Are you aware of any barriers to equality and diversity for either Welsh or Wales based critics?
I think that it is hard to break in to the Arts when older; and also as a Welsh person who doesn’t speak Welsh. Language can be used to exclude and deter. I also think that assumptions are made about people who appear to be privileged in some way and they too are disadvantaged. Prejudice is subtle. If you were able to fund an area of the arts in Wales what would this be and why?
Older women. We are often treated as a bit of a joke, we seem to have comfortable lives and seen to have had our chances; we are the invisible glue of local communities, giving our time and expertise with humour and hope but with little acknowledgement or reward. It is assumed that we have incomes, partners and that we are in the Arts as a hobby, for play. We are the ones who will develop the young, mentor the adult and encourage the old. We do not qualify for much by way of support and yet we keep it all going. What excites you about the arts in Wales?
There is a lot going on; at last craft is seen as having a value almost on par with fine art. Ditto participatory and community art. What was the last really great thing that you experienced that you would like to share with our readers?
Training to produce radio where I hope to interview people about their lives, all great and none small. Check out 3rd Act Critic Helen Joy’s reviews for Get the Chance at the link below
Creating opportunities for a diverse range of people to experience and respond to sport, arts, culture and live events. / Lleisiau amrywiol o Gymru yn ymateb i'r celfyddydau a digwyddiadau byw