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Women Making Waves, a training project in media production run by the College of North East London (CONEL), has won first place in a competition for Best Adult Project.

The awards scheme was organised by the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) London North, which hosted a ceremony in the Science Museum. Each project nominated for the competition was financed by the European Social Fund.

Women Making Waves ran during the last academic year and helped students on their path to a career in video and sound production.

The award was presented to CONEL's Project Manager Jessica Pickard and Carol Gates, Assistant Head of Business Development, whose team managed the LSC contract. Lesley Wood, manager of Overtones recording studios, a major partner in the project, joined college staff on the platform to collect the glass star.

Forty five women took part in the six-month project, which involved intense tuition in practical video and sound recording skills. Both these fields have low representation of women in practical work. Less than five per cent of Londoners working in video camerawork are women and percentages are lower in the music and sound technology field. For women from black and minority ethnic communities despite a strong profile as consumers of London's music and media the picture is bleaker. In some key trades, less than one per cent of employees are women from these groups.

Once the participants had gained technical skills, they put them into practice during an industry placement. BBC London, the third partner in the project, provided six month-long placements at its Marylebone studios. Students experiences included live TV camerawork during the news, outside broadcasts, time in the editing studios, live radio phone-ins and shadowing staff at business meetings.

The BBC also set a project for the video students, which was judged by its staff. The brief was to outline and justify a proposal for Untold London. The judges were so impressed by one entry that it has been made and broadcast. It was directed by student Loren Chevry-Berlinka and shot and edited by BBC staff under her direction.

Several students have begun freelance careers and are now working in media production. Sarah Bisset has just raised £20,000 to produce and direct her own film. "I don't sit about now thinking 'if only I had the money to make a film'. I just get on and make it", she said. "It's a cliché but I can genuinely say that my work placement in Uganda was a life transforming experience," added Elena Machado.

Jessica Pickard said, "The reputation and status of CONEL's two partners on this project gave it credibility and weight. The Holborn-based studio, Overtones, is run by women and records well-known artists including Sting and Ms Dynamite. Rubbing shoulders with recording artists, watching real, and mainly female, engineers at work and experiencing the frenetic, focussed atmosphere of a real studio added both spice and realism to the experience. It was a real commitment of time and money to allow the women to use valuable studio time like this. We're delighted that the efforts of the students and the three partner organisations has been recognised through this award."

Jessica Pickard added that CONEL is currently exploring alternative funding streams to repeat this successful project.
 

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