Arts Emergency

Maddy Costa

Theatre Writer

As a teenager I was very torn between studying art and writing about music: I wanted to be a painter and a journalist for NME. My parents wanted me to go to Cambridge and get a “proper degree”, so that’s what I ended up doing. At Cambridge I had a massive crisis of confidence because EVERYONE was smarter than me, more dedicated than me, and I felt like I was basically in the wrong place. This is the root reason for me wanting to volunteer for Arts Emergency: for me that stage of life was a wilderness and anything I can do to help lead someone through it will be time well spent. I spent a couple of years haphazardly working for my parents/doing work experience, and then in Spring 1997 (ie nearly a year after I graduated) a friend recommended i go to the National Student Drama Festival. I did a bit of writing at that, got a really positive response, and suddenly that seemed like something I might be able to do. A few months later, Time Out commissioned me to do a theatre review, and after that another, and another, and the next thing I knew I’d been reviewing for them for five years. Music is another passion so I spent a couple of years knocking on doors and slowly but surely that paid off too, I started working for the Guardian as a music reviewer and got my first full-time job with them from that. I learned more about writing from being an editor than I’d learn just from practising writing on my own, and that’s the other reason I want to volunteer for Arts Emergency: I’m a really good editor, and young writers don’t get a lot of contact with good editors, so I feel I have a lot I can share. Ultimately I’d like to take part in the mentoring scheme, but I have two young kids (aged 4 and 6) so I think realistically at the moment I have to stay at Contact level – I’d like to upgrade soon though!