Interning with Strike A Light: Aimée Lewis

A photograph of Aimee Lewis
Aimée Lewis

What’s your name and where do you come from? 

I’m Aimée Lewis and I live in Cheltenham but went to university in Gloucester and aim to keep working in the city. I want to be part of the huge cultural changes in the city that aim to make an impact in the surrounding communities.

What were you doing before joining Strike A Light?

I was fresh out of finishing a film degree at University and working in a coffee shop, striving for something more creative. I still can’t believe how lucky I am to have got the experience to work with Strike A Light because I wanted to still stay in Gloucestershire. It was the perfect opportunity to move into for me.

How did you hear about the opportunity and what made you think it sounded interesting?

My mum actually tagged me in a post on Facebook! That’s how I heard about my cultural leadership trainee role. At first I didn’t really understand what it meant because it was a completely new role for myself and the organisations but it was exciting to have a creative job opportunity pop up right on my doorstep at the perfect time for me. 

I had no idea that Strike A Light existed before and wasn’t involved in the creative Gloucester community. All I can say is that I was impressed with what I learned, and honoured to have memories of taking part in events and supporting artists for exciting things happening in Gloucester!

Can you remember what your first day was like?

Yes, mostly because I hadn’t met anyone prior from Strike A Light so I really didn’t know what to expect. I remember Jess opening the door to me and making me feel so welcome. I remember the office vibe being so chill and bright. On my first day, Jess talked me through everything and I felt super comfortable to get on with stuff right away, even if I didn’t know what I was really doing at first.

Any particular highlights or lowlights?


So many but I’ll keep them breif! 

  • Front of House 

I really enjoyed being chatty and welcoming to audiences. It really helped with my confidence and also being able to watch every performance was a bonus. The time spent with Jess and others on front of house was so fun and there’s a few memories I’ll cherish forever (like that one time I thought a pigeon needed saving so went to pick it up to move it but it totally mugged me off and moved right back)

  • Producing a show for Jonny Fluffypunk 
Aimee produced ‘The End of the Pier Show’ with Jonny Fluffypunk

Working with Jonny and Christina has been such an experience that was really enjoyable but difficult at times because I was in a new environment. I noticed the support that everyone had for each other straight away and it was something I definitely needed at times. It was magical to see the show come to life and to see first hand how those experiences were really enjoyed by children and their families. Even though lockdown ruined live performances, I still got to see how far the show developed and had fun working on the audience facing interactive parts of the project like the workshops plus we got to create a digital copy of the show.

  • Filming with Barney/Fluxx Films

The time I spent directing some videos for Strike A Light with Barney was awesome. I got to interview audience members and really understand their experiences with the events that we put on. It was great to be a part of putting it together into a video to shout about what Strike A Light do best. 


  • Lockdown

What a downer!! Working from my bedroom all day wasn’t great. I quickly noticed that not being in the office with people being easily able to turn around and ask for help was hard. I got a little bit more of responsibility with producing Jon’s show in lockdown so the pressure of being stuck inside along with it wasn’t the best. However, I’m proud of myself that I stuck it through and it was really useful to have those 1:1 conversations with the team about it all in the end. 

Was the year how you expected it to be?

I didn’t know what to expect at first because when I applied for my trainee position it was focussed around libraries and Strike A Light was a sort of extension. Therefore, I had no clue how the two organisations were going to click together but in some cases they did. I look forward to keep crossing the Gloucestershire Libraries & Strike A Light bridge. 

When I started, I had no idea that I’d be working on a new children’s theatre show and later on producing a digital version in lockdown. I didn’t think I’d have as much control and freedom in the role which has been nice but also terrifying at the same time. 

I didn’t expect everyone to be so welcoming and friendly or to be sometimes watching the team take part in 30 second planking competitions! I also didn’t imagine myself enjoying front of house at events so much but it’s really helped with my confidence over the year. I loved talking to communities about the exciting stuff we were doing! 

Favourite and least favourite things about the work?

My favourite has to be meeting all of the team and working with them to put on awesome and exciting events in Gloucester! The least is working from home during lockdown and leaving without a proper goodbye however, I know the journey hasn’t properly ended yet and I look forward to working closely with them again in the future. 

What are you going on to now?

I’m going to continue my journey at Gloucestershire Libraries as part of the development team and keeping supporting and perhaps push for more exciting events and activities to happen inside our libraries. I also hope to keep in touch with exciting projects happening in Gloucester and get involved as an individual for self growth and making new connections. 

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‘Let Artists Be Artists’ – 3 artists appointed

Here we go – it’s actually happening! What started as a wishful idea back in summer 2020 is now a reality.

Together with a group of fantastic partner organisations, we’ve been able to appoint 3 artists – 1 full-time and 2 part-time – to ‘just be artists’ for one year.

It’s an experiment in a new way of working and it starts now. From nearly 400(!) applications, we are DELIGHTED to announce that the three artists will be:

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Tom Marshman

Tom has been making theatre for 21 years, actively encouraging dialogue with participants through socially-engaged processes such as ‘Tea Parties’ – telling engaging, poetic & unpretentious stories. An overarching theme of that work is that of the outsider & their story, particularly regarding the LGBTQ+ experience: stories that have been omitted through archival silence. (Photo by Andre Pattenden)

Florence Espeut-Nickless

Florence is a working class artist from Chippenham in Wiltshire, a town with no theatre and limited access to it. She’s a writer, performer, facilitator and theatre-maker. She makes work for both stage and screen about / with working class communities in the Southwest, in the hope to make the arts more accessible to everyone, regardless of background and geographical location. (Photo by Ned Espeut-Nickless)

John Pfumojena

John Pfumojena is a Zimbabwean actor, musician and composer with practice focused on Mbira and Marimba music cultures. He has won several awards, including a Zimbabwe Young Achievers’ Awards UK in 2019 for contribution to Theatre and Music. John is interested in the globalisation of the Mbira instrument of Zimbabwe and cross-cultural collaboration. (Photo by Byung Gun Jung)

“I have been working as an artist for over 20 years but I felt like this was the kind of opportunity that should be more widely available for artists so they can have the time to experiment, and be their true selves.

I want to be the guinea pig for a new way that we think about how we pay artists and I am absolutely f****** delighted to be that guinea pig!”

“AHHHH! It’s huge! It’s hard for me to put into words how much this means to me as an artist but also as a person. IT’S MEGA. MASSIVE. SICK. I’m actually still in disbelief really.

It makes me feel valued. Like what I have to say is of value. That the stories I wanna tell and the communities I wanna work with are valued within the arts and wider society.”

“This is an exciting opportunity for me to share the ancient culture of Zimbabwean Mbira in a contemporary and modern context, as well as explore new contacts, connections and collaborations with artists and communities in Bristol and Gloucester.”

We’re so thrilled to be working with, supporting and learning from such exceptional people. It was incredibly difficult to narrow the selection down to just three, and we’re sad not to be able to work with all the brilliant artists who applied – but we’re so excited to see what comes from this year.

What will the artists be doing?

That’s up to them! From the start, we’ve been clear that a crucial part of this experiment is giving artists the freedom to work with no ‘targets’, no pre-defined outcome and no pressure.

We set out the types of artists we thought this would be well-suited to, and the principles that we use in our work, in our initial recruitment call-out.

As part of the experiment development process, we also held a planning day with partner organisations and artists which expanded on that thinking in greater detail.
» Read the notes from the planning day

How were the artists appointed?

We ran a three-stage application process, beginning with a simple expression of interest and concluding with flexible, in-depth interviews. The whole thing was run and developed in collaboration with the partner organisations and artists who helped us shape the process, and the interviewees were paid for their time.
» Review the full recruitment process

Why this experiment?

For too long, there have been massive inequalities in terms of who benefits from ‘The Arts’ – both as audiences and professionals. Artists go underpaid, under-heard and under-supported. And it’s not truly open to everyone. We want to change that.

We felt that this moment, where there is no business-as-usual, could be an opportunity to build a new normal for the arts industry. A new normal that gets us closer to the world we want to see – where everyone can access amazing cultural events. Where the systems are:

💥 fair
💥 adventurous and
💥 open to everyone.

You can read the full background on our thinking in the original Let Artists Be Artists proposal.

What happens next?

The artists are starting work now! We’ll be sharing updates on this whole process over the course of the year, through a series of reports and events.

If you’re interested in receiving these updates or attending any of the events/workshops, please sign up to our Let Artists Be Artists mailing list:

Subscribe to the Let Artists Be Artists mailing list

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Future opportunities for artists
If you’re an artist and interested in finding out about jobs, training, support and other similar opportunities in future, you can also sign up to our dedicated Artist Support mailing list – a monthly email newsletter.

Funders and partners

We’re so grateful to all of the organisations who are joining us to make this a reality:

Action Hero | The Arts Development Company | Bristol Ferment | Create Gloucestershire | GL4 | Gloucester Culture Trust | Jerwood Arts | MAYK | Pound Arts | Theatre Bristol | Theatre Orchard | Travelling Light Theatre Company | Trinity Bristol


Krump training with Joshua Nash

The collaborators

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Joshua Vendetta Nash

Professional theatre and street dance artist, specialising in hip hop and Krump.

Shenice Ellis

Gloucester resident and local dance teacher – also now a Women Leaders South West Associate.

Ambitions Dance

Dance company made up of young people in Gloucester, from ages 4+!

The collaboration

Group members learning the routines over Zoom 🔥

We’ve been doing sessions with two groups: 10-11 and 12-18.

Joshua is going through the basics of Krump – a style of dance these groups have never done before.


The dance style is really fun – and it’s more exciting cos I’ve never heard or, like, seen anybody do Krump before

Group member

Keep updated

We’re hoping there’ll be a live performance featuring Joshua and these dancers before too long 🤞 Want to hear about it, and other exciting events coming up?


Shenice Ellis and Halima Malek: Gloucester women join arts industry leadership scheme

There need to be more women in leadership positions in the arts

There is a gender imbalance in favour of men throughout the arts industry – especially when it comes to leadership roles.

Source: The Guardian, ‘UK report reveals ‘disgraceful’ gender inequality in the arts’

Gloucester is full of brilliant people with huge creative potential

We love seeing more and more of Gloucester’s residents realising what they can do, what they can bring about in the city, through the arts.

So we’re delighted to welcome two women from Gloucester – Shenice Ellis and Halima Malek – as our new Associates as part of the Women Leaders South West (WLSW) leadership development scheme.

WLSW is a training and career development programme that aims to do something about the gender imbalance in arts leadership, by supporting women in the South West to explore it as a viable career option.

Future women leaders, made in Gloucester

Under the scheme, Shenice and Halima will:

  • work on their own creative projects
  • shadow the Strike A Light leadership team
  • see the inner workings of an arts organisation
  • join a residential of intensive learning in April 2021
  • and develop their own skills as future arts leaders

all whilst receiving support through mentoring, the wider network of WLSW Associates – and, of course, being paid for their time.

The hope is this will, over the next 18 months, help them progress their own careers and further their potential as leaders. And, ultimately, that WLSW can be another step towards a world where there is sufficient support for women in leadership that the arts becomes a more equal, diverse and representative industry.

Part of a bigger picture, too

The WLSW scheme is happening with eight fantastic arts organisations in South West England – each supporting two new Associates of their own. So there are 16 women in total, from Dorset to Hampshire, participating in the programme.

Read the full announcement, including all 16 associates across the South West.

Our new Associates

Shenice is a dance teacher from Gloucester who has run Ambitions Dance & Drama group based in Gloucester and Stroud for the past 14 years. She loves to travel and is always up for new adventures. This has led her to give opportunities to the young people she works with, including touring trips to France, Hungary and America, as well as teaching in an American summer camp.

Halima Malek is a Gloucester-based artist and makeup artist whose parents originated from India. Her work has been showcased by the Wilson Gallery and she was one of several women invited to read for International Women’s Day at St Mary de Crypt. She works closely with different communities in Gloucester, including the Indian and Muslim communities, to bring positive change to people’s lives.

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An open call to the ‘woke minority’

Oliver Dowden (Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport) has invited 25 of the country’s leading heritage bodies and charities to a meeting on 23 February to tell them “to defend our culture and history from the noisy minority of activists constantly trying to do Britain down”.

We’re issuing an invitation to arts organisations and allies to meet on 23 February at 5pm to discuss the “heritage summit” called by Oliver Dowden, our potential collective response as arts organisations and to offer support if appropriate to the heritage sector.

Why are we worried?

This “heritage summit” is the latest in a series of similar actions from DCMS and the Charity Commission (see links below) and we are concerned that:

  1. This is censorship
  2. People’s stories and heritage will not be shared and by proxy will be silenced
  3. Heritage and the arts are intrinsically linked, they both tell stories and often support each other. We want all voices to be heard and all stories to be told
  4. This “silencing” will trickle down and DCMS may start to censor the arts and us as arts organisations

Join us for a quick (we promise) hour Zoom to find out:

  • What we all think about this?
  • What the response already is from our sector (if there is one)?
  • What can we do?
  • Will this affect us as arts organisations?

(There is quite a lot of stuff out in the world already about this but below are some links for more information.)

You can sign up to attend below – we look forward to seeing you on the 23rd February at 5pm.

If you can’t attend but would like to be involved in future conversations, please sign up to our artist mailing list below. We’ll share what comes out of the session on the 23rd and invite ideas for next steps.

Please share this with anyone who may be interested or affected

Strike A Light


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Booking to attend this event has now closed – but you can still register to be kept informed. Please select ALL that apply

“The ‘heritage summit’ will be British culture’s last stand against woke zealotry. Among the 25 heritage bodies whose leaders will meet Oliver Dowden, too many are possessed by a Left-wing spirit that the public reviles… So it is a sign of grace that Oliver Dowden, the Culture Secretary, has invited the leaders of 25 of the country’s leading heritage bodies and charities to a meeting on February 23 to tell them “to defend our culture and history from the noisy minority of activists constantly trying to do Britain down”.

Simon Heffer
The Telegraph

Useful links/background reading


Gloucester Gets Creative

Experiences you can enjoy right now
– made in Gloucester

Gloucester Presents… SheSpoke

A small group of women took part in writing workshops to express themselves in poetry – which was then turned into a hand-sewn textile banner 🔥

Fresh new projects currently in the works

Dates for your diary

More exciting experiences coming soon…


youth dance




Youth Theatre: 16+

for 16 year olds and up in Gloucester.

Find your voice.
Get heard.


Free places available

where we meet

Wednesdays, 7.30pm-9pm.
City Works, Alfred St, Gloucester, GL1 4DF. Online during lockdown

This is Charlene. Charlene looks after all of our Youth Theatre activity.

you can
work with pro artists

Like Conrad. This is Conrad Murray. He’s just finished making a BBC TV version of his beatbox show ‘Frankenstein’. He’s one of the artists who’s going to run a guest session with us in 2021.

you can
make new friends

‘I have learnt to be me’

‘I love being part of Strike A Light because i feel like im on an adventure’

in partnership with:

Bristol Old Vic logo

Youth Theatre: 7-11s

for 7-11 year olds in Gloucester.

Find your voice.
Get heard.


Free places available

where we meet

Tuesdays, 4.30pm-5.30pm.
Matson Baptist Church, Gloucester, GL4 6LA. Online during lockdown

This is Charlene. Charlene looks after all of our Youth Theatre activity.

you can
work with pro artists

Like Conrad. This is Conrad Murray. He’s just finished making a BBC TV version of his beatbox show ‘Frankenstein’. He’s one of the artists who’s going to run a guest session with us in 2021.

you can
make new friends

‘I have learnt to be me’

‘I love being part of Strike A Light because i feel like im on an adventure’

in partnership with:

Bristol Old Vic logo GL4 logo