How can artists at different stages of their development learn from each other? The following is an excerpt from a conversation between an experienced artist co-ordinator and a young trainee about their experience of learning from each other through their working relationship. The dialogue presented here is an excerpt from a conversation held at the Festival for Healthy Living Reflection and Planning day held in October 2008. It presents a vivid illustration of some of the values and benefits to both established and emerging artists that are possible through a co-mentoring approach.

This dialogue was supplied by community artist and teacher Mary French.

(AC = Artists Co-ordinator; T = Trainee Artist)

AC: “T” was mentored by us (the more experienced artists) but she also mentored the artists team because she is a local resident and a young person. What I learnt from her was an insight into living in this town.

T: I got an insight into working in schools.

AC: I learnt what it is like coming from another country and fitting in.

T: I learnt about staying positive and believing it could happen: scary but exciting.

AC: I learnt about the local community and a young person’s perspective.

T: I learnt, from a mature person’s perspective, what to expect and how to handle emotions. It was a roller coaster but I learnt so much about working with people as a group of artists, and how to respect and share information.

AC: We talked about mentoring but respect and wisdom are the key words. I also learnt from T about how to speak one’s own mind.

T: I learnt how to practice tact.

AC: I learnt about how to include all of the artists, including the trainee, in the timetable.

T: I learnt how to interchange areas of the arts, working in the performing arts. I learnt how to adapt – quite scary,

AC: I learnt to ask more questions, for example of the trainee about her needs.

T: You were terrific mentors to me and I could pass that on to the other kids I was working with in the project.

AC: It works extremely well to match young people with other young people. You can always learn so much from youthful enthusiasm.