Three years ago I was working as a trainee Arts Development Assistant at an arts centre in Milton Keynes, writes Sarah Watson-Jones. My role was to assist the Programme and Education Manager with programming, marketing, education workshops and to co-manage artists in residence. Although I was in an ideal and sought-after position, and one that would give me a head start on many other applicants once my traineeship was over, I still wanted to gain some sort of qualification/formal recognition related to the many areas I had gained experience in.
In seeking a vocational qualification that would combine my arts teaching and arts development work, I settled on the NVQ 3 Arts Development and Teaching course at Wysing Arts in Cambridge, a creative specialist qualification designed for arts practitioners working, or planning to work, in community arts and education. Students are offered a structured seminar programme, a personal tutor, use of a training and resource studio, induction and use of Open Access Studios, and the opportunity of assisting or running workshops. By attending the course, I gained enough experience of good practice and knowledge within the field to be offered further employment with Luton Adult Education as an Outreach Co-ordinator.
I have since been appointed tutor on the course at Wysing and, following our advertising the course locally and nationally, we have had a huge response (with enquiries from as far as London and Brighton) from artists desperate to find training for their professional development. Recent students who have completed the course have now gone on to exhibit within a number of large galleries, as well as teaching on MAs and as visiting lecturers, and have gained employment within arts, community and education establishments. Some of these had never taught before they had attended the course two years ago, some with severe dyslexia and lacking in confidence, thinking that they could never achieve a formal qualification within arts and education. Many of them had been discouraged from undertaking PGCEs and Cert Eds as there is so much writing and paperwork involved.
It seems that training and professional development for artists is vitally important, whether it?s in the form of mentoring or formal qualifications. Even the networking at such events can form an important role within an artist?s professional development. In order for many artists to survive, they rely on having to write applications for funding to pursue projects and their practice, and often, without training and mentoring, they fall by the wayside and end up never pursuing their arts careers. If I hadn?t attended such training I would have found myself in a very similar situation, and not where I am today, assisting fellow artists with their professional development.
Sarah Watson-Jones is a tutor of the NVQ3 Arts Development & Teaching at Wysing Arts.
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