ArtWorks Cymru Open Space Session - 'What are we doing to open up professional arts practice to people who are never going to do a degree?' (on behalf of Ruth Garnault)

Notes from ArtWorks Cymru Training  symposium:
open space

 

The Question:

What are we doing to open up professional arts practice to people who are never going to do a degree?

The Context:

  1. Over 50% of people in the Creative Industries have a degree (CCI figures). In disadvantaged areas of Wales, far less than 50% are going to get a degree. How do they get a foothold in the arts?
  2. ‘Participatory arts’ seems to be a hidden area. How do people know of its existence as a career path?
  3. Volunteering and internships are valuable. They show commitment, sacrifice and build skills. What about people who can’t afford to be interns?
    “There is no point going into the arts if you don’t expect to volunteer or intern! It’s nearly always the first step on the ladder.”

 

The role of validation and degrees…

Does validating experience further marginalise those who don’t have access? Or does it help to give a ‘kite mark’ to a practitioner?

When a job description has a degree as an Essential Criterion, do we question why?  Is it a reflex? Tradition? A way of reducing the avalanche of applications? Does a degree show something particular about the applicant?

As HE gets more expensive it will inevitably get more exclusive. Are there different ways of accessing training?

What are the barriers to doing a degree?

  • Financial?
  • Cultural?
  • Practical (e.g. childcare)?

How do we take down each of these barriers.

Do you need a degree? If you want to be a professional violinist you need to put in those 10,000 hours practice. But ‘El Sistema’ solved this. We need to learn from world-wide systems.

In the end, how much academic learning helps when faced with six 12-yr-olds who just want to beat each other up?! Can anything beat practical experience? Is shadowing a skilled practitioner the best way to learn?

 

Possible solutions

  1. Make sure marginalised groups get the chance to participate in the arts
  2. Make sure the lead artist / organiser is on the look out for that ‘spark’
  3. Give that bright spark the chance to develop through shadowing, being mentored and volunteering / being an intern.
  4. Next step could be good quality apprenticeship.

Should we be campaigning to have the Arts Award system for schools in Wales? Been successful in England. An arts equivalent of Duke of Edinburgh Award.

We ask: how did you get into the arts? What was your story? Were you at school and thought, “I want to be a community artists?” What did your careers adviser say to you?  We suspect there are many and varied ways into the industry.

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