Backstage to the Future is our flagship youth technical skills training programme, happening now in the Caribbean. Taking place during the 30th anniversary of Green Moon Festival on San Andres Island, it brings together young people from Colombia, Venezuela, Cuba and Jamaica, giving them the opportunity to get hands-on experience in a diverse range of backstage jobs in music and live events. Training is made up of the technical elements of how to create the work as well as “soft skills” - how to communicate, network and project plan.

We catch up with three attendees from Backstage to the Future to hear their reflections of the training so far.

1. Why did you apply for Backstage to the Future?

Yuareys Arteaga: I found out about the programme through the British Council in Venezuela. The opportunity to go to San Andres was amazing. I haven’t been able to work with live audio before, I currently work in TV.  

Ana Luisa Sánchez: I want to learn more about stage management – as a profession it’s not very well-known in Cuba right now and it is often confused with being a producer. But it’s a specialism that’s really important.

Henner Mclean: It was a great opportunity to learn from others and upgrade my skills.

2. What has it been like connecting with participants from different backgrounds?

YA: It was really interesting – we don’t get much chance to interact with people from the Caribbean in Venezuela. But it’s really similar to our own coast, I feel at home! There are differences, of course, but we are learning from each other. Through the soft skills training especially we are getting to know each-others’ cultures.

ALS: It’s a really important experience – we are creating a network across the Caribbean. The Caribbean is not very connected at the moment and it’s great to have this opportunity.

HM: It’s been great making connections with the Caribbean – Cuba, Jamaica – and getting to know other people and sharing knowledge.

Did you develop any new knowledge or skills?

 YA: I’m refreshing a lot of stuff – concepts I learned at film school, but now I’m getting to put them into practice for the first time! As well, I’m getting to learn about stage management and lighting, which I didn’t know about at all before.

 ALS: The programme has made me understand the role of stage management better. I’ve learned more about the stage the many tasks that make up the job.

 HM: I’ve upgraded my technical skills. The soft skills aspect of the training has also been really useful; even though i’ve been working as a professional for 5 – 6 years, it gave me a confidence boost.

4. Was there anything that surprised you about the experience?

Yes, a lot! I travelled last in 2014 and since then the situation in Venezuela has got a lot tougher. It’s made me feel refreshed to be here, less chaotic. I feel like I’m starting to get back to my normal personality.

HM: Getting to know about the importance of other professions - lighting, stage etc. They all connect. For the first time I can see the big picture.

5. Has this changed your attitude to The British Council / the UK?

I love Harry Potter, so i’ve always loved the UK! I also love [UK teenTV show] Skins – but the way they speak is hard to understand. I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to understand the British trainers. But it’s been great! I’d love to work with the British Council again.

ALS: All of the trainers are brilliant. I have only positive things to say.

HM: I didn’t know about the British Council before this. It’s provided a great opportunity for young people in the Caribbean.

6. Has the training changed the way you work?

YA: The trainers are encouraging us to be patient and concentrated – I’m really trying to do it! I want to take this back and try to keep doing it in my life. I want to take this experience and work in live events, as well as TV.

ALS: As a result of this programme I now want to learn more about sound and lighting – the stage manager needs to know about all of these things! 

HM: For sure! I learned some great tips, as well as different ways to do things. I’ve been able to reinforce the knowledge that I had and apply the new knowledge that I’m gaining.

What were your standout memories? 

YA: Everyone from the programme is so friendly and welcoming. The people and the place are beautiful. We are already finding ways to connect after the programme ends – on Facebook, on Instagram, etc.

ALS: It’s just been a wonderful experience, everything has been amazing!

HM: When I was in a training session with all the sound apprentices and we shifted from analogue to digital system. There was a moment of surprise for many people – because a lot of us don’t get to work on digital systems in our home countries.  

8. Summarise your experience so far in three words

YA:Warm, fun, perfect

ALS: Amazing, interesting, necessary

HM: Connections, knowledge, memories

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