Abigail Harrison Moore, School of Fine Art, History of Art and Cultural Studies
Amanda Phillips, Audience Developer, Leeds Galleries
Claire Sawyer, Archivist, Henry Moore Institute
Cate Walker, Project Officer Libraries, Arts and Heritage
Aim of the session:
- Think about careers in arts administration and curating. There is a very large range of possible careers.
- Give advice on how to get into these careers.
- Consider how to maximize the value of an arts degree.
The big message is not to panic as there are still lots of opportunities BUT you have to be very strategic and targeted.
In Cameron’s Big Society volunteer organisiations are going to be the places with the most opportunities.
MA Museum Studies is a good Postgraduate course to aim for (and the University of Leeds offers this course!)
Cate always wanted to be a librarian and although she did consider other professions, scarcely wavered from this career path. She has a degree in Classics from Birmingham University, a postgraduate diploma in Librarianship and is a Chartered Librarian. She has worked in academic libraries, but mostly for local public library authorities, and in between, took time off for motherhood and to work in her husband’s business. In her role as Project Officer in the ‘culture’ department of Leeds City Council, Cate is now working with partners across the city and in Libraries, Museums and Galleries to develop a range of projects across Leeds. For part of her week she is currently ‘on loan’ to Leeds Grand Theatre and Opera House Ltd where she is working with senior managers to implement a new staffing structure.
Cate decided to study classics as it was something that excited her and she knew she needed to have an academic degree. While studying she worked at her university library.
When she moved to Leeds she wrote to the libraries and asked for a position – it was easier then. She worked through public libraries and found it to be a very varied profession. About ten years ago she stopped working at the frontline and became a project officer, she found this position to also be very varied.
Cate stressed how there were lots of opportunites in the library service and the list of these are endless BUT tough to get into. One has to be enthusiastic and willing to gather many skills and experience along the way. It is a very people based profession and is becoming increasingly technological.
- Understanding of the importance of books and the printed word
- Management skills – these are developed over the years
- Good at teamwork
- Able to be strategic
For more information look at the Chartered Institute of Libraby Professionals.
Claire’s career in archives began with little thought or planning. After graduating with an English and History degree she was advised by her tutor to ‘check out archives as a career’ as she’d spent enjoyable hours using them for research during her studies. Claire undertook volunteer work at York Minster Archives, and decided to qualify as a professional archivist. After a one year placement as an archives assistant at Surrey History Centre, she completed the MA in Archives and Records Management at University College London. Claire’s undertaken a variety of roles in the archives sector, including records management for a merchant bank, archivist at a local authority record office and archives advisor for the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council. She began her current role, as archivist at the Henry Moore Institute managing an archive of artists’ papers, in Leeds in 2008. She’s keen to develop the collection and recently undertook a study trip to research and establish links with similar arts archives in the USA.
Information on the Henry Moore Institute:
The institute serves several functions, the most obvious being its exhibition space; it is also a centre for the study of sculpture and a research centre. It exhibits mainly sculptural works and has a collection as part of the institute.
The archive is very specialist and started and is mainly papers from artists practicing in Britain.
Claire started working at the Henry Moore Institute about two years ago. In getting to where she is now she had to be very persistent and looked around for volunteer experience.
Archiving, like working in libraries, is a very varies profession as there are so many different types of archiving outside of museums; Claire has even worked in a bank archiving bank records! Being and archivist is about a lot more than just ‘organising’ the artefacts, it coveres cataloguing, access and preservation as well.
Like Cate, Claire stressed the importance of enthusiasm. An individual who shows enthusiasm for the project/archive is more likely to get a volunteer place.
Audience developer at Leeds Galleries.
- Find out what it is that you are REALLY interested in!
- Volunteer LOTS – you come across better as you know what you are talking about at interview.
- Try and work to link to where you are going: e.g. the Art History section at Boarders!
Amanda used her own career path to illustrate ‘work to link to where you are going’:
After leaving education she worked in a material shop. She then decided to become a primary school teacher and trained as one specializing in Art. She got a position working in health education. From these experiences it was clear that she was interested in people and learning environments AND art.
In her current position as Audience Developer she takes theories and applies them to the gallery and education. She focuses on how to entice people to use the galleries for fun. This position has given her the opportunity to curate exhibitions and work with artists.
She encourages Leeds students to continue with career paths in the arts as, although it is a very competitive field, there are ‘cultural mafias’ out there who really favour students from the University of Leeds.
Session sum up:
It is important to learn the relevant language for C.Vs and interviews – it sounds o much better!
Expect to volunteer. To get into most pain positions you will enter them through contacts you made as a volunteer.
To do Postgraduate studies in these subjects you will need a first or a high 2-1. There are some scholarships available but, again, you will need a first for these.
Marketing yourself is fundamental.