Thinking Tank – Institution
Questioning the effectiveness of the institution is a prominent subject in the arts at the moment. A lot of people feel cheated of professional practice skills and tools to make and sustain a career in the arts.
In my second year of University I started putting together a 5 year ‘plan’ and the big question hit me “how am I going to make a career out of my practice?’. I had a chat with one of the tutors and we discussed my concerns. Professional practice lectures were then introduced to the course. The lectures included information on insurances, exhibitions, sales and essentially setting yourself up as a business, which was useful. What I do wish I had, in retrospect, is a visiting artist to just tell me the hard facts:
– yes you need a job to support your practice
– yes it is bloody hard managing your workload
– yes it is hard to get a strong income out of your practice alone, especially in this economic climate of doom.
I was asked recently if I regretted my time in the institution. NO! Not at all. It was an amazing experience and really developed my practice and my works would not be what they are now without that experience. Unfortunately, these days a lot of people have degrees, so you need something else to stand out from the crowd, experience. The creative industry is hard one to break into but if it was easy everyone would be doing it!
In the perfect world the institution would provide all the essential skills and experiences and you would walk out with a degree straight into a job. Since your paying for a the degree, I understand why people are upset. I admit I am frustrated with making next to nothing from my practice, which isn’t a reflection on the institution, it’s the economy. I am however, thankful I got the experience in galleries during my studies to have my job as Business Support Officer for the Culture Team. This supports my practice, pays the bills and its in the arts and culture sector. Hopefully I will be more successful with funding/bursaries next year so my art isn’t purely supported by my job in Culture.
It is hard but I love working in the arts 🙂