A bit about me:
Hello! My name is Anna, and for the last 6 years I have worked as a director, producer, composer, performer and writer of opera, music and theatre projects. Since graduating with distinction from The Guildhall School of Music and Drama, I've been lucky enough to work with companies such as English National Opera, Welsh National Opera, English Touring Opera, Scottish Opera, Opera North and the London Symphony Orchestra, among many others.
I hope my work changes perceptions of what opera is and who it is for, encouraging audiences to discover and delight in, new worlds and experiences.
My other great love is history. Not just my own exploration of the past, but how we interact as a culture with our own history and the museums and institutions that facilitate this. Over the last 2 years, I've had the privilege of working with some of the UK's premiere museums and heritage sites, creating theatre and music events that allow audiences to experience their collections and exhibitions in creative and unusual ways. These projects include:
SCRAWW (Trebah Gardens/Hall for Cornwall) saw audiences explore the Persian epic poem "Conference of the Birds" through puppetry, headphone technology and a 26-acre sub-tropical garden.
Sound Tracks (London Transport Museum) created and curated 9 new operas, inspired by, and performed inside, the Museum's unique collection.
Return of the Unknown (Marlowe Theatre/ Dover Marine Station) saw me work with over 500 schoolchildren and community groups to create a large music theatre piece from their reactions to documents, photographs and oral testimony about Kent's role in WWI and the Armistice (yes, that is an abandoned train station!):
And currently, my wonderful team and I are creating These Wondering Stones (Barbican/Museum of London) This project has seen us working with the curatorial team at the Museum to create an electronic opera adventure through London's streets, uncovering the hidden and buried histories of the area. (Come and see us the 18th and 19th May at Sound Unbound Festival!)
Through this work, I've seen young people inspired, communities develop their self-identity and heritage spaces realise their potential to incite positive change. I now want to refocus my career on producing exhibitions and events for these spaces. The major difference, is that I wish to do this as part of a Museum and cultural heritage team. I am now one step closer to realising that ambition, having gained a place on UCL's prestigious Museum Studies MA.
What is Museum Studies and what's the point?
Museum Studies covers everything involved with the practice of running, managing and presenting cultural heritage, from curation and collections care, to creating exhibitions, to exploring whether there is actually any place for a museum in our globalized world.
"But why should I care?" I hear you cry. "What's the point in that when there are people in crisis all over the world?" "How would this degree be of any use whatsoever?"
I think the most important thing to emphasise is that the specialist skills learned on this course have wide- reaching, global implications. All of the following are study areas on a Museum Studies MA:
Museums have rarely put indigenous and tribal cultures at the helm of their own stories. Studying the curation of oral history and storytelling leads to more informed and empathetic curating practice, and perhaps, at last, exhibitions and narratives that empower these living communities.
I will have the rare opportunity to study Antiquities and the Law. Although this may not directly affect my work in creating exhibitions, it is an important to have this knowledge which plays a vital role in the vast international effort to return and rebuild looted ancient treasures to the IS devastated areas of Syria and Iraq such as Palmyra and Mosul. It also continually supports the process returning art stolen by the Nazis in World War II by training those who work in cultural heritage to identify stolen pieces.
On a smaller scale, but perhaps most importantly, studying interpretation and public engagement (the way museums tell their stories to their audiences) could put an end to incidents such as the one I witnessed recently at a small, local museum, where a father shut down his son's interest in learning with a short, sharp, "It's all really boring down here," and hurried him through to the cafe.
The above may say more about the father than it does about the exhibition, but it is vital that museums consider the ways they present themselves. Many are becoming hugely successful at curating innovative and powerful experiences and exhibitions that have made visitors re-evaluate their relationship with people and places they thought they knew, such as the V&A's David Bowie Is... exhibition or the Museum of London's upcoming, Beasts of London. I am excited to be a part of this enormous cultural shift.
Why am I looking for support?
As many people know, being a student in the UK, and particularly London, is an expensive business. On top of my course fees of £11,050 for the year, living costs (which include rent, bills, transport and food) in London for a student average at around £20,000**. That means I need to find £31,050 to make the next year work. I am very happy to have received a small scholarship from UCL towards my fees, and I work full time as a director, musician, producer and workshop leader. This means I have saved money, and continue to save which is why I am not seeking to Crowdfund the full amount. My work will continue around my full time studies as much as possible whilst at UCL, including evenings and weekends.
** Figures from UCL website (definitely coherent with my own experiences of London!)
A couple of extra factors affecting my fundraising: Whilst there are many trusts, charities and foundations that support MA studies, many do not support students over the age of 25. I'm 27, so this hugely limits my field of what I can apply for. One other huge consideration is that I have the auto-immune condition, fibromyalgia. This causes widespread pain, extreme fatigue and affects cognitive function which can strike at random and can impair my movement when needing to work and travel. I am desperate to ensure that this condition does not affect my capacity to study and need to make sure I have consistent funding for travel and transport should walking prove difficult on a bad day. But enough about that...
What's in it for you?
I do lots of things- I write, sing, direct, teach, compose etc. and enjoy showing people around the towns and cities I love. I hope I can share some of these skills and passions with the generous people who feel I am a worthy cause- no amount of money is too small and I am hugely grateful for any support you feel you can give. You can see a list of things I can offer to the right of the screen (or potentially below if you're looking on your mobile?) Mostly, I hope that one day I'll be working with you on a project that gets you excited to learn and discover more about your history (or her-story, of course!)
Thank you so much for reading my story and I hope you choose to help me get to UCL. Please share as widely as you see fit! Please check out my website if you want to see more about my work- www.anna-pool.com
UCL, UC-hell yeah! #museummuso