Firstly, what do we mean by arts career?
Arts - really means any role within the creative & cultural industries. That includes being an office administrator for a promoter, an events organiser, an actor, a musician, a technician, a curator, and many more roles. It doesn’t just mean being onstage, it’s everything that happens around the stage too - and far from stages in museums, galleries, studios, libraries, outdoor event fields and even those old abandoned warehouses.
Career - a long-term foray into a particular specialism. OR dabbling in creative practices, possibly working front-of-house in a theatre by night and in an office by day. OR sat in a cafe doing one project, in a workshop space on another project an hour later (A portfolio of roles/projects/contracts).
I make these points about both words because there are many, many ways to get into a career in the arts. It's a broad area of interest and there are many transferable skills. There are also progressions within a role which go hand in hand with other career verticals. For example a notion of "Stage Hand, Assistant Stage Manager, Deputy Stage Manager, Stage Manager, Company/Technical Stage Manager, Production Manager”. Actually whilst this seems a plausible route, a Company & Technical Stage Manager are two quite different roles and a CSM is likely to head off up the line of a less technical route. Whereas a technically minded stagehand might jump into lighting before being a Production Manager for example.
You will likely find a specialism based on your own preferences. You might start out in one pool, and then branch out in a different direction to everyone else you started with. This doesn’t just apply to technical, it applies to creatives too - do you prefer historical art or contemporary? Portrait or Landscape? Watercolour or Oil? Just three of many variables that make up who you are as an artist. Same goes for performers.
So, whichever route you choose, remember that it’s going to be unique to you. It will have ups and downs, and you might go down a path you didn’t originally plan to. The important thing is that you give it a go and find what makes you happy.
Some resolutions that could help you in an art career:
1 Try new interests
It doesn’t have to be 'out there'. But if you’re keen on becoming an actor - try a class on Shakespeare or mime. Try something you don’t usually do much of to see if it’s an area that you like. You never know!
2 Join networks
These could be online, informal or organisations. Networks like Young People in the Arts, UK Theatre Producers on Facebook, Independent Dance Management Network, The Artist Information Company, the Royal Society for Arts and of course our own Arts Award Youth Network, if you’re an alumnus. Find one or several in your area of interest - there are many on Facebook, and some on our useful arts websites page.
Especially if you’re joining online networks, please remember to stay safe. Here’s an advice article on keeping yourself safe online - positioned handily as also a way to ‘look good to employers’. Probably just what you need right now.
3 Utilise training opportunities
These could be online seminars or workshops you can attend in person. A bit like points 1 and 2 - the training could be something you already know and want to develop in, but it could also be in complementary or new areas. For example, if you’re interested in working with young people - then jumping on a safeguarding course is a great idea. Many employers would value if you have attended first aid training. If you want to be a producer or project manager then training in particular areas like marketing, business planning or budgeting will always be advantageous.
4 Plan my ‘exit’ this year
From your current career that is. If you’re doing a job you don’t like and want to try full time as a creative then perhaps this is your ‘set-up’ year. It could be about starting out as a creative in your evenings & weekends, or it could be about saving money and budgeting to launch yourself completely into an art career in 2019. Sometimes taking your time and a measured approach is fruitful. Not all of us are risk takers. You could combine this with my first few points so as to get a flavour of what you want to become whilst still earning that little something in your current job.
5 Get a Gold Arts Award
I genuinely mean this. I did my gold over 10 years ago now. It opens the world of the arts up. And it’s been great for people whether 13 or 25 years old. As long as you're under 26, you can get your Gold Award. You don’t have to have done other awards before. And, it pretty much encourages you to action the first three resolutions in one go.
If you’re interested, take a look at what Gold is about.
If you’re still planning on making a resolution to get into an art career, then take a look at this article about being a Creative Intrapreneur (if you’re going to work for others) or this how-to guide on being a self-employed creative.
Best of luck for your 2018!