Support for arts careers

Yesterday I wrote about the arts being a very solitary world in which to work, today  I am thinking about the support offered for those expressing a desire to pursue a career in the arts. At the moment – with my own artistic career – I feel a bit lost; I would like a mentor, someone in the industry who has been there who can offer support and guidance, and who believes that I might have something to offer.

I have never seen such support – not from schools, college or university. Not from anybody who is supposed to be there to help you on to the next step in your life. Of course family are always there supporting me, something I know not everyone has and for which I am hugely grateful, but none of my family work in the arts so although they may want to offer support there is little they can actually do. If you want to get support for such a chosen career path from a young age eg. at an educational establishment then you have to go to a specialist arts school. To find someone outside of this route you have to be lucky, opportunistic, good at networking and talking to the right person at the right time.

I realise that the arts is a tough industry to crack, what I don’t understand is why it’s so hard to find somebody to (occasionally) help you do it. Maybe I’m delusional and wishing for something that resembles a fairtyale reality, but why can’t there just be more support for such a career choice offered at educational institutions? Why, basically, are the arts not a bigger and more supported part of our society more broadly? Which – I know – is such a huge question to address. (sigh).

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3 responses to “Support for arts careers

  1. True – but could you not email a few people from companies doing similar work, offer to take them for coffee in exchange for picking their brain? Could build into something.

    Also tried to set up careers day at uni with people like producers, writers, performers but also people from marketing, programming etc. Wasn’t met with much support so couldn’t end up happening. Shame as so needed. People constantly told what a battle finding work will be, which is true, but nothing to counteract that and provide hope. Only odd visits from performers and then focused on their work, not reality of making a living.

  2. Yes, the reaching out for contacts yourself is a valid point and definitely a way a lot of people I know have had success. But even that requires knowing the right person to contact and having the confidence to do so, which could both be helped by such events as you tried to arrange. What a shame it wasn’t met with more support as it’s so needed!

  3. True. And not my responsibility anymore, but wish universities would get this happening – especially as students are paying more and living in fear of not finding work post graduation.

    Scratch Nights are a great way of making contacts and starting conversations. In Kent we have Pot Luck which was started up by Accidental Collective (associate company of Uni of Kent, and now also The Marlowe Theatre), who really work at helping artists meet like minded people, get feedback, etc. I know Brighton Dome were starting something similar, First Fridays I think? Plus The Basement have scratch nights. It’s difficult but those sort of opportunities, either attending or setting up, are so key I think.

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