Winter 2015 I was at a point in constellation where I had to choose what dissertation model to develop. At that time I had been in discussion with a work colleague whom I had worked with over a period of 20 years on many different professional music projects, such as songwriting, performing, developing new artists, publishing and community music projects such as IMMTECH, Major Music and Community Music Wales. An opportunity to obtain a building and facility for a Music, Art and Performance Centre had arisen within the CF11 Cardiff area so my colleague and I began to discuss and research how to create our own creative arts project. With this in mind my decision to develop a Business Plan lent itself to my business idea of Cardiff MAP (Music, Art and Performance) which would provide intervention programs, projects and alternative education within the creative arts to the vulnerable and disadvantaged, NEETS, mental health issues, and young offenders. Having already worked within the educational and community sector of providing intervention programs I felt my wealth of knowledge would assist my business development and dissertation. Unfortunately, in Dec 2015 I suffered a major health set back where I began to suffer with light sensitivity which brought on vertigo, this impacted on my work due to my work being on a computer screen and within facilities where there is false light. I informed my colleague, who was very understanding and I had to finish my involvement and part time job with Major Music due to the vertigo, which was very upsetting as I had worked there for 5 years. In June 2016 my tutor advised me to take a year out of studies. I was hoping in my year out I could use the time to further investigate my dissertation but found that I was unable to have contact with my tutor, which lead me to decide to continue on my arrival back to study in Sept 2017. Since May 2017 I have been going through an acrimonious divorce which has been highly stressful due to having two children, no home, many court dates and very large solicitor bills. So my return to Uni in Sept came with numerous personal difficulties. The deadline for formative assessment came upon me very quickly but I felt I was just about achieving what I needed too. After assessment, my tutor discussed another dissertation format that would be 6000 words and a presentation but I had my mind set on a business plan, at that time. I continued to work on my business plan which included a section called, case studies which included numerous facilities and projects I had personally been involved in. I began to approach the business plan with a focus on evaluating the difference between projects that were no longer in action and programs that have been providing intervention projects and education for over 20 years. Having set up 2 of my own businesses, one of which was a performing arts school called Stage C.A.M.P (Cardiff Academy of Music and Performance) I realised that my strength was the financial aspect of running a business but in the past and on projects I had worked on with Vale, Bridgend and Cardiff Youth Services a lack of research and poor evidence in outcomes were the corresponding comparable. Discussions with my tutor lead me to decide to work on a conference paper and not a business plan, where I could focus my research into figures, statistics and research into findings such as the cost of mental health on the NHS, what is the dominating financial burden within the health, social, educational and justice service and provide evidence on how creative arts can help relieve the financial burden within our society.
In 2010 funding cuts began to take place within the funding and community sector and I had first-hand experience of the impact that had within the community. I was working on a project called Yikes TV for Bridgend Youth Services where I delivered accredited courses to mental health, young offenders, learning difficulties within film, music and performance. The people I had been teaching had no other provisions to attend. I was offering an alternative to mainstream education, going back into mainstream education was not an option for them as they had severe problems. It took 2 years for funding cuts to take effect and many providers along with Bridgend Youth services faced cuts and closers putting a major strain on the very small amount of providers left along with NHS, social, educational and justice services. On reflection of this I feel it has guided my approach to my research and made me focus on what I could do within my business/ project to ensure I do not fall victim to the funding cuts, therefore leaving many people who need additional support within our communities without the necessary help and support.
My tutor has given me brilliant guidance and provided me with the exact amount of support I needed. She has reminding me to remain focused on my outcome and not my personal situation, approach my work in stages, which is something new for me, as I would normally have very high unachievable expectations of myself and become stressed that things were not coming together as quickly as I think they should.
Writing the paper has been a long process and taught me to be patient with myself. I set small obtainable targets which would eventually become a larger final outcome. This approach is something I am going to continue in my work.
I feel my learning within constellation has taught me how to write like an academic, develop a critical argument, researching from academic resources, evaluate, challenge and adapt my approach to learning and be realistic in my abilities. I have had many personal challenges to face within my years doing BA Hons and it has highlighted my sheer determination against all odds to achieve my goals , which has aided me with a new found confidence.