It is a celebrated fact that work in the artistic sector is often prejudiced, underpaid, and unwarranted. A stagnating economy, acute fund crunch, and a consistently inconsistent higher education funding has pushed students under a tremendous debt laden career, and has made it horribly difficult for art graduates to survive. For many arts graduates, the number of internships they can secure plays a crucial role in establishing their job prospects. There is a perception that higher education institutes have a responsibility of producing “employable” or “work ready” students. Many teachers struggle to prepare arts graduates for the challenges of developing a vocation in the sector. And the drastic decline in the number of students, coupled with decline in the quality of teachers has significantly contributed in pushing the arts category off limits.
What arts graduates want?
So what do arts graduates want from their careers? For years, many experts have been dealing with cases where arts colleges are facing a severe crunch of arts graduates and the ever changing global demands aren’t helping the case. Many curriculum experts have pondered over the idea of addressing the concerns raised by students and teachers alike, so as to create a strong curriculum that would attract the best of students to work in the ‘traditional’ arts sector.
Let’s look at some of the conventional solutions to address the issues raised.
It would be presumptuous for teachers to assume that prospective arts graduates are completely unmindful of the nature of work in the arts sector.
To put it basically: students are aware of the fact that work in arts sector is based primarily on short-term contracts which also includes portfolio work. However, the present career expansion advice predominately focuses on jobs that are stable and based on a typical, foreseeable career development. In an arts industry, where self-employment and portfolio careers are conventional, the constant prominence on well written resumes and flashy cover letters being the important tools required when pursuing employment doesn’t take into account the stringent hiring procedures.
Skill and Expression
The primary resolution that students want is the introduction of concepts that would help them better prepare for work in the arts industry. The next resolution is a physical space for skill development. The various roles and diverse job profiles make the arts sector an amazing and exciting place to work. However, the plethora of opportunities available for the arts graduates could make it a daunting prospect for them.
It is highly important to include practical exercises into the curriculum to provide students with an opportunity to work success and failure. It may sound conceptual to many, however, it is priceless in a sector endemic of overnight success and relentless rejections that can often feel personal than professional. Another thing which students seek is experience, where they can work on essential skills needed to flourish in the sector. Skills ranging from learning to prepare a sales pitch to more complex ones like improving the communication skills. Also many arts graduates lack the basic knowledge like what their employment rights are. Also, this gives them an opportunity to learn about exhibiting their verbal and non-verbal skills. Arts Graduates, with time, can answer their most pertinent daemons which could lead them to success. For instance, queries like – “How does one behave in a field where apparently anything goes?” or “how effective their career strategy is”. Being able to communicate with people working in the arts sector offered an opportunity for arts graduates to see how pros conduct themselves.
Nevertheless, any curriculum you develop, there will always be limitations to its effectiveness. For instance, work internships – which are still seen by many arts graduates as the standard route to a career in arts sector – are still to be implemented thoroughly. What arts graduates need the most is a series of work placement contracts that will address disparity of admission.
That said, arts is a sector which requires a lot of work, as opportunities are limited to an extent and the present workforce does not reflect the diversity of society. No matter how difficult it may appear, but it is ultimately very important to find current practices in the sector that might produce a change in employment practices.