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AIYF – An Inside Look


Aberdeen international Youth Festival is a multi – arts festival where young people come from all over the world to perform at various locations across Aberdeen and the North East of Scotland. This means that North East locals have the opportunity to see a variety of performances such as Dance, Theatre, Orchestral music, Choirs, musicals, jazz and performances with other music abilities. So that is what happens on the outside of AIYF, but what about the company from the inside?


My 12 week work placement from Uni is coming to an end and I’m looking in from an outsider’s perspective on who is behind all the work that goes in to the festival every year and finding out more about the staff who make this a great place to work.


The offices are based down stairs from seventeen, at 17 Belmont Street and it’s a small office that only currently has seven staff members working at various times and days. The small team of staff means everyone gets on pretty well and there is always the opportunity to work closely with everyone.


Myself (Rachel)

I started an internship here in February as part of a placement from RGU where I study Media, my jobs here are to schedule social media posts, help run current projects and to basically be Jessie’s right hand woman. I moved here from Perth to study Media because I was not sure what I wanted to do but I ended up really enjoying it. My background in music is pretty limited, I can play the drums but I am pretty much tone deaf apart from that. I enjoy working here because the environment is really upbeat and I have a big interest in undiscovered talent in the arts, whether that be going to local open mic nights and finding a new band I like or using Instagram to look at art from artists who are yet to make it big. When I’m not in the office you’ll usually find me watching the TV show, ‘The Walking Dead’ or acting the walking dead – I’m a non-professional SFX artist! This means I spend most of my time elbow deep in fake blood it’s an impressive yet impractical talent as it’s only really useful once a year, but you bet I’m busy during Halloween!



Javier has also only been here for a short period of time, he collaborates with the social media side of things and a big part of his time here is spent creating blogs and vlogs, called Javi’s Journals, in which he reviews Aberdeen from a foreigner’s perspective while adding his own comedic twist. Javier is originally from Palencia Which is in sunny Spain, not sure why anyone would give that up for Aberdeen but Javier believes in adventure so he has travelled all over the world and has stayed in some exciting locations from the Czech Republic to Latin America. Javier came to Aberdeen over a year ago to study his final year of Journalism at Robert Gordon University where he found his passion for researching and showcasing his work to the world. Javier, like many of the employees here has a background in music and his instrument of choice is Guitar which he has been playing for over ten years. Javier was previously part of a Spanish orchestra for six years but now he spends his time busking and collaborating with various bands on projects. Javier enjoys writing his blogs with AIYF as he feels it gives him the freedom to express his opinion while AIYF gives him a platform to do so, plus it’s a good excuse to visit new places and try new things. Here is a link to Javier’s Blog so you can check it out for yourself



Eilidh, may or may not be Aberdeen’s biggest ‘Queen’ Fan – started working at AIYF in January as an Admin Assistant. Her main responsibilities are general admin jobs such as contacting various companies, sorting accommodation for participants and she is the first point of call for AIYF’s summer courses. Eilidh also works in childcare as part of an out of school club which she enjoys because it allows her to be a big kid again! Even though Eilidh ‘Just wants to break free’ she has no rest, as even on Saturdays she runs a saxophone orchestra in Inverurie! As well as playing saxophone with the Aberdeenshire Saxophone Band, she has completed her degree in Music at Aberdeen University and works with various University bands in Aberdeenshire. Eilidh likes working at AIYF as it is a relaxed work environment and has an interest in Aberdeen Festivals because they bring great culture to our city. When she eventually does have some time to herself she spends it watching the crime drama ‘Broadchurch’ or  ‘RuPauls drag race.’



It may be starting to seem as though AIYF didn’t have any staff until recently as Jessie, Marketing and Communications Assistant has also only been here for a short period of time too! Since starting in January Jessie has been doing a bit of everything from the PR behind the Mela to organising venues for a launch event. Jessie really enjoys working within the creative industry as she has an interest in Dance, Music and Theatre. She actually has a background in Theatre and Ballet, making her debut at just two years old during a production of ‘The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe’, where she was chosen as the main part purely for being the smallest in her class! This must of sparked a passion in her, as from there she has been heavily involved in her local theatre in St Andrews doing various plays and exchanges but has since moved on to Dance and is a member of a Folk dance group called ‘Feerochie’ which translates as ‘a state of excitement’. When Jessie is not doing an ‘impromptu Hornpipe Sock Dance’ she enjoys travelling, debating, tasting different whiskys and foods, in fact she has was a finalist at a debating competition in London, so I don’t plan on getting into an argument with her!



Laura started as an events intern at AIYF in February 2016 and worked until the end of the festival where she then went off to India for 4 weeks but soon came back to work and has been here ever since. India isn’t the only place Laura has travelled; in fact she has been to 23 countries in 23 years and has lived in Africa for a year, teaching English. Laura is currently in her final year of Events Management at RGU so she works here part time doing an Admin role which involves her essentially keeping the festival going by supporting the logistics and planning behind it. Laura enjoys working here as it gives her the opportunity to meet new people from a variety of backgrounds and it’s a really nice feeling when participants keep in touch and come back year after year. As a typical student does, Laura enjoys drinking Gin but she also likes to watch Sci-Fi films and ski, although she admits she’s not that great at it. Laura has an extensive background in music as she has been playing trumpet for over 14 years and was won gold and platinum awards while performing with the West Lothian Wind Ensemble at the National Concert Band Festival (NCBF).



Lynn started at AIYF as ‘Young Person’s Co-ordinator’ in 2015 to work in partnership with North East Arts Touring to create opportunities for young people who are mainly art events programmers and organisers based in Aberdeenshire. Self-proclaimed advocate for using the arts to raise awareness for mental health, Lynn would one day love to create a festival that would raise awareness of mental illness in young people and to help those struggling find their voice. Lynn loves working here because she loves seeing talented young people progress and view the arts as a career choice, not just a hobby. Lynn has a background in dance as she worked for Fusion Dance group and during her time working with Fusion they were awarded the twinning grant in 2015 which allowed the group to head to Ravensburg in Germany. Here Fusion collaborated with another dance group on a piece which they performed together at AIYF’s gala. Nowadays Lynn uses dance as a hobby, dancing in a contemporary style community group called ‘Cast 2’ which has members ranging from 18 all the way to 60! But before all of her dancing days Lynn lived on the beautiful Waiheke Island, New Zealand for a year where she learned Tai Chi, Danced and felt free by the sea.



Former Actor, Weetabix minder and the festivals longest standing employee has worked here for 10 years and fills the role of Artistic Director and Chief Executive Officer. Stewart’s main job is to ensure the festival runs smoothly every year by creating new projects, keeping in contact with participants and overseeing the programming, logistics and finance. Stewart likes working here because he enjoys the wide variety of projects, staff and participants that the festival brings together each year. Stewart trained as an actor at Queen Margaret University and worked within theatre and TV before starting his own theatre company. ‘First Base’ was a youth theatre company based in Edinburgh that mainly put on middle scale music theatre productions with their biggest show being Three Steps to Heaven written by David Cosgrove. The theatre group toured nationally and played at venues such as the Fringe Festival, the Arts Centre and the Pavilion. Stewart loved this job at ‘First Base’ as he liked working with scripts and actors but as anyone who has worked within the arts knows, the money just wasn’t there. In Stewart’s free time he likes to watch a wide variety of films with his favourite genre being foreign films, he also enjoys trampolining, tennis and travelling.



Karina started working here only 2 weeks ago as an Intern from the Cultivate programme to manage the ‘See the World in Aberdeen’ project that AIYF are running, this means Karina spends her time here budgeting and planning for a pop up gallery the festival is taking over to turn into an art installation. Karina originally applied for the internship as she is full of ideas and wanted somewhere to apply them and thought her multicultural and family skills would help in developing the project. Karina loves working on the project right now as she eager to improve Aberdeen and bring beautiful colours to our city. Karina is originally from Peru and moved here 9 years ago after meeting her husband while learning English in Texas. When Karina is not in the office she is working at a flower shop, does photography for small businesses and looks after her 2 year old, who she would love to write a blog on to capture the memories they have together. For her child’s first birthday she followed the style of ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ to create her own mantra ‘Adventure, Eat, Love’ and took him to Machu Picchu for the ‘Adventure’, Let him dance with the most beautiful woman in the room, which naturally was her for ‘Love’ and for ‘Eat’ he tasted Guinea Pig for the first time which is a Peruvian delicacy! (So I would recommend keeping her away from your household pets!)


So, from my 12 weeks here I have learned a lot about the festival but I have also had the opportunity to get to know the staff very well and from my experience I can say that, the staff at AIYF are what make the festival great. Every member of staff, no matter how long they have been here is dedicated to the festival and they work so hard to make it happen. The people of Aberdeen that visit the festival will never realise just how much work goes in to it and don’t  see just how much work its employees put In.  Along with the valuable experience I have gained, I have also had the pleasure of spending the last 12 weeks with amazing people who all have completely different characters yet work together so well. Goodbye AIYF, it’s been great!!!

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