Grace discusses her experiences as a young creative working with PAPER Arts, and the influence of Babbasa’s mentors
My name’s Grace Sodzi and I’m 23. PAPER Arts has been around for about six years now and I actually first came into contact with them in 2015. I was a part of their first Mentoring Club, and I found their support so helpful in pursuing my creative passions. At the minute we’re reassessing what we do and how we move forward but at the heart of all we do is encouraging young creatives to do what they love for a living and feeling valid in that. I’ve recently joined the organisation to decide how we move forward and can support the recovery of the creative industries post Covid-19
I’m really into creative and blog writing. I think being creative is such a great outlet and it helps me work through emotions when I’m finding things difficult. I think I’m really big into motivating people which is why I feel like this role is perfect for me. Also, I really love walking, and hot chocolates.
I think a big thing for me was not seeing people who looked like me in leadership positions, especially in creative sectors. It didn’t feel like a valid option for a career. When my Dad moved from Ghana to England he had very strong ideas of what a good career was, understandably as he’d worked so hard to build a good life for us and he wanted it to continue. Being creative was always seen as too risky a choice of career. But I was able to overcome this resistance I had through my trust in knowing myself and my passions well and taking up every opportunity I could. I just really wanted to embrace that and to do what I could. Sometimes you have to put blinders on the world and power on through. I started to stop focusing on not seeing people that looked like myself, and started to focus on being the person my younger self wanted to see. That gives me the fuel to keep going.
I would say also though, that it’s so important to connect with people that understand and resonate with you – they inspire you to keep going. Support networks are key!
I heard about Babbasa because I was nominated for the Enterprise Award back in 2015/16. At the time I was running a social enterprise with the focus of educating young people about mental health and well-being. I’m pretty sure I came third, which offered me mentoring support and funding. I didn’t know much about Babbasa before, but the combination of funding and mentoring was so useful. It was amazing to be supported and motivated in that way.
I really want to continue to stay in positions of leadership so I can be that person I always needed when I was younger. I would love to launch a new strategy that pushes PAPER Arts into a new direction and help a number of young creatives turn their dreams into realities, irrespective of their backgrounds. I’m passionate about ensuring PAPER embodies what it means to be an inclusive organisation. BLM really brought the urgency and importance of this to the forefront. Organisations need to ensure that they are authentic in their inclusivity and now I am leading an organisation, that is my goal.