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Goodbye Graduating Class of 2021!

I’m sitting here again, staring at the same blank screen that greets me around this time every year; trying to organise my thoughts and feelings into some sort of coherence. A sort of coherence that is befitting of the last 12 months, one that can send you all off into the world. It took me until September last year but Kate is making me do it now… So here it is.

Artwork by Milly McMullen

It’s hard. It’s always hard in fairness, trying to sum up 3 years of hanging out and making brilliant things. Watching each and every one of you grow into fabulous practitioners and move from students into co-conspirators and then take those first few steps into being friends. How do you surmise such a profound change?

I’m struck this year, as with last, by how unfair it has all been. The chaos that has surrounded Covid and the changes we were forced to make to our working practices has stolen from you. It’s taken away so many opportunities for growth and development.

You, you brilliant little buggers, have made it work though haven't you!?

In your final year of study on this crazy course, you have had less time than anyone before you to make your mark. You went from 40 hours a week of on-campus access to staff and facilities to merely 12. This was the best we could do for you and whilst we did everything we could in the face of very restrictive guidelines, I was worried for you. At the start of the year, I was very worried. Deeply and truly worried that you would not have the chance to show the world how hecking great you were. It turns out that I needn't have been.

Looking at the work submitted this year I'm overwhelmed by how incredible you all are. You have stared down the barrel of chaos and restrictive access and you did not flinch. Your work ethic and attitude to overcoming these hurdles has been exemplary.

You have achieved incredible things in your time with us and I hope you are proud of yourselves. I am proud of you.

I said last year that, that had been the hardest of my career, I feel now that I may have spoken too soon. This year has been a different kind of difficult. Last year we had to react quickly to situations that were out of our control. This year we had to plan for it: That made it worse. I think it made it worse because it was clear to see how difficult this was going to be from the outset.

This year has been exhausting from the moment our feet touched the studio floor in September right up until… Well, it’s still exhausting. I have a LOT more grey hairs to testify to that.

I have never been more tired. Yet, here we are. We made it. YOU made it. All of the blood (yes there was blood) sweat (I didn’t get close enough thanks to Covid guidlines but I’m sure that some of you didn’t wash your studio clothes enough/at all) and tears (lots of these too), worthwhile. All of the stress and anxiety paid off. Soon you’ll pick up your degrees and be off into the world.

So, here’s where I tell you to go kick some ass and always be your own Kate. Where I plonk some words of guidance onto the page that will gee you up for your first steps into the world of work and life beyond uni… Except… I don’t want to. I don’t want it to be done.

I feel like we have more stuff to figure out and more brilliance to uncover… I’m right, actually. We do have more brilliance to uncover, it's just I’ll have to watch it from a bit farther away (farther even than the 2m Covid regulations allowed).

YOU have brilliance to uncover. You have adventures to have and big brilliant lives to win. You have to go out into the big wide scary world and kick its flipping ass.

That’s your job now. Go do us proud. The Team here on SFX will always be here. Like those weird family members that always seem to turn up to gatherings to cause trouble. You’re a part of the gang for as long as you want to be and we will ALWAYS be here if you need us.

So go kick some ass and don’t worry too hard when it kicks back. If this year has taught us anything then it’s taught is this:

We’ve done the impossible and that makes us mighty.



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