At the beginning of 2011, the Bursary Blog started following a group of arts graduates taking their first steps in the creative industries thanks to the DCMS Jerwood Creative Bursaries Scheme. They took us behind the scenes with blogs and vlogs showing us what their organisations do, what their jobs involved and what it meant to them to get the opportunity to start work in the arts industry. As the year draws to a close, scheme director Kate Danielson from the Jerwood Foundation looks back at what has been achieved.
Now in the thick of exit interviews with some of the graduates completing their placements, I cannot believe it has been over a year since the first bursary recipients on the scheme took up their roles. It feels like just the other day that I was sitting down with the early cohort who were appointed back in September 2010.
We talked then about their journeys to this point and what they hoped to get out of their new hard-won placements and I was amazed at how passionate, articulate and committed they were at this early stage in their careers in the arts.
A year on and they have all, without exception, made huge progress, both personally and professionally and are making significant contributions to their host organisations. For some this is because they bring a specific skill such as Alan Kemp who has created new digital content for Aldeburgh Music’s website and Oliver Sykes who has introduced a comedy strand to Contact Manchester’s programme. For those who have joined much smaller organisations, the learning curve has been steep and rewarding. Jack Lowe joined Aurora Orchestra a year ago as the only full-time member of staff and he has made a significant contribution over the period in which the orchestra has not only been awarded regular funding from the Arts Council but has also had a meteoric rise to stardom and 5 star reviews. Antony Mottershead, as only the second member of staff on the arts team at Grizedale Forest in Cumbria, is now co-curating his first London show, at Jerwood Visual Arts.
We consciously chose a range of organisations, big and small, new and established, in urban and rural locations to host placements and it is inspiring to see that with time put into the induction process, the graduates on the scheme have made a big impact across the board.
In a time of great change within our sector and a good deal of instability, it is thrilling to witness the number of the graduates being offered either extensions to their contracts or permanent roles with their hosts. Ninety-eight per cent of the placements were new posts being offered by hosts and it was too much to hope that these would transform into new jobs. It is a testament to how indispensable the graduates have made themselves in their placements that the organisations are making it a budgetary priority to keep them on. Of the placements completed to date, two-thirds are remaining in their roles either on a temporary or permanent basis.
It is hard to say how many of these graduates may have been lost to the arts sector if this scheme hadn’t existed. All I can say is that I have heard some very heartfelt stories during the evaluation process of those who were at the end of their tether, coming out of university and doubting that they would ever get their foot in the door of their chosen career. Finding these jobs restored their confidence in their ability to carve out a role for themselves in the cultural and creative industries, and they are now busy planning their future careers.
It’s great getting to know this group, and the networking and development events we have run and continue to run have been a great chance for them to meet each other and some of the organisations involved. I for one am looking forward to seeing how these relationships develop into future collaborations and we can say, “I remember when they first met…”.
One of the added benefits of the scheme is furnishing these 42 graduates with a network of professional contacts which extends across arts forms, across England and across a wide range of job roles. The last of the graduates finish their placements in March next year and we look forward to following their paths in the years ahead.
Read blogs and watch vlogs by the graduates on the DCMS/Jerwood Creative Bursaries Scheme.