In Conversation with Tim Watt – Founder of Gibber

In Conversation with Tim Watt – Founder of Gibber

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Gibber is a theatrical education company that aims to deliver memorable messages that inspire positive change.

With a background in performing arts, founder Tim Watt has a wealth of experience delivering entertaining educational presentations to schools in both the UK and Australia.

We are extremely excited to be partnering with Tim to develop and deliver our presentations for Be Social. Be Smart., and with one week to go until our first school presentation, we thought we better introduce you to the main man himself!

1. Can you tell us a bit about you and your background?

My name is Tim Watt, I’m married with 3 teenage children and I moved to Australia in January of this year to run the Australian arm of Gibber.I’m originally from Poole which is a beautiful town on the South Coast of England where I grew up with my Mum, Dad, 5 brothers and 3 sisters.

My Mum and Dad were also foster carers and so as well as my siblings there were always other children living with us as part of the family. It wasn’t usual to be woken up in the night and be asked to go and sleep in your brothers room to make space for a child who had been taken into emergency care overnight.

I was blessed with loving parents who supported and encouraged me throughout my childhood as well as a big family who stood up for each other when you needed it and brought you back down to earth when you were getting too carried away with your own self-importance. Having grown up around children in care made me realise that everyone isn’t born so lucky, but that everyone deserves a chance to realise their full potential.

After graduating from Poole Grammar School I attended Weymouth College where I studied Performing Arts, much to the disapproval of many of my former teachers who saw little or no merit in my artistic pursuits. However with the support of my parents who encouraged me to follow my dreams I loved every minute of my time at college and took full advantage of all of the opportunities it gave me.

After 2 years of college I was offered my first professional acting job and spent 3 months touring schools in Wales with a Theatre in Education piece for primary schools.

I found I had a talent and a passion for using theatre to teach and inspire young people, and after 4 years working as a jobbing actor, touring schools, theatres and arts centres around the UK and Ireland, a friend and I decided to set up an Educational Theatre Company –  Gibber.

2. Who are Gibber?

Gibber was established in 1999 in the UK and in 2013 we opened an office in Sydney when we tendered for, and won, a contract working with Bridges to Higher Education to promote HE to young people in Greater Western Sydney.

I am now based in our NSW office and my business partner Vicky is based at our UK office in Whitley Bay, UK. Gibber (as in gibberish) is a company who use theatre, film and multi-media to deliver memorable messages to a target audience.

We work with young people in primary schools through to senior managers in the corporate world using humour to break down barriers and innovative drama techniques to communicate information in a way that people understand.

The messages are diverse, and can involve anything from health or careers to it a shift in company procedures, but it is always delivered in a way that speaks directly to the target audience.There is a lot of ‘gibberish’ in the world and what Gibber do is to try and make sense of it for our audiences in a way that is enjoyable and easily remembered.

Knowledge is power and our aim is to help people increase their knowledge of what choices they have or what opportunities are available to them in order for them to fulfil their own potential.

3. How do you and your team inspire positive change in Australia schools?

Since 2013, Gibber have been working with NSW universities and more recently universities in Victoria to raise aspirations and widen participation of students from those groups underrepresented in Higher Education. It’s important that all young people in Australia, regardless of their backgrounds, realise that they have choices when it comes to what they do after high School and specifically how higher education could  benefit them and help them realise their potential.

Higher Education might not be the route for everyone but that decision should be made by the individual based on their own life goals, and not dictated to them based on their circumstances or where they live. Everyone has a right to make these choices for themselves but not everyone knows about them or understands that, and that’s where the Gibber team come in.

In a dynamic, hard hitting and high energy “magazine style” interactive performance the Gibber team uses humour, music, multi-media and popular culture to engage, inspire and inform students about the many different progression routes into higher education.

Using identifiable characters and fun interactive scenarios that the students can relate to, we dispel any preconceptions or negative attitudes towards learning beyond the compulsory education period, raising awareness of the specific routes into university and their accessibility for all.

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4. What change do you think is needed around social media education?

In my experience social media is seen by many teachers and schools as a huge negative and as one teacher told me “it’s full of cyber bullies, trolls and sexual predators and should be banned!”

I certainly don’t think it should be banned and I do think its important that young people are taught about the dangers and possible pitfalls of using social media. But I also think they should be taught about the huge positives and benefits that come from using it positively.

Rather than shying away from social media I think schools should embrace these technologies to engage young people and highlight how they can be used for research and learning. As young people get older there is a lot of pressure on them to make decisions about their future.

Social media presents them with a fantastic way to find out what other people did to get to where they wanted to go, and the fact that it’s interactive means they can ask questions and join in conversations to find out more.

With more and more employers using social media for recruitment it’s important that students leave school with not only the knowledge of how to create a positive social resume but with a positive digital footprint already firmly established.

5. How do you use social media to create opportunities?

Social Media gives us the opportunity to find companies, organisations or individuals that have a common interest, or who might be interested in what we offer and want to listen to what they have to say. By doing this we can learn about their needs and if appropriate offer them solutions safe in the knowledge that if they ‘look into who we are’, which of course they will, our online presence will showcase our work and generate their interest to find out more.

Leaving my comfort zone in the UK and coming to Australia, I found that LinkedIn has been an invaluable resource to network with potential clients and find opportunities as well as a place to ask fellow professionals for advice. Through this I have seen my Australian network grow very quickly.

Twitter and Facebook are great for posting about our projects and positive news stories which also helps to keep our clients up to date on how their projects are being delivered. If anyone is looking into what we they will not only see examples of our projects and the organisations that we are working with, but they will also find testimonials from people who have taken part.

In the past we have used Instagram to further engage with students following a school visit. Not only does this help to embed the learning objectives but it also helps to showcase the work that we are doing to other potential clients and creates interest in Gibber.

Social media enables us to engage with our clients, potential clients and fellow professionals in a safe, non-threatening way which helps us to sell what we do without doing too much selling!

6. What do you enjoy most about what you do?

I love the diversity. One day I could be working with a group of year 6 students and the next I am writing a presentation to be delivered to a group of senior managers about policy change. The challenge is to make sure that both audiences are equally engaged and leave having not only been entertained but also having learnt something.

I will always be a performer at heart so for me nothing beats standing in front of an audience and seeing them fully engaged in what you are doing or saying. Add into that the fact that what you are saying has the potential to have a positive impact on their lives makes my job incredibly satisfying and rewarding.

Last month at a school in Sydney a year 7 boy came up to one of the Gibber team following a presentation and said “I just wanted to say thanks, I didn’t know I could go to Uni, I think you have just changed my life” – who wouldn’t enjoy being a part of that!

Read more about Gibber on their website here.

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