How To Kickstart A Career In The Arts

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Want to kick start your career in the arts? Here’s how to get creative about your job prospects.

If you’re considering launching a career in the arts sector, it may be a little bit daunting in this present financial and political climate. Cuts to the arts in recent years have been well documented and almost feel like a signature move from the current government.

We’re always told that arts jobs are exceptionally hard to get, are few and far between and don’t qualify as a ‘proper’ job. Sometimes it can seem impossible to get a foot in the door anywhere; even entry level jobs want you to have five years experience, have a zillion credits to your name and be able to juggle elephants whilst standing on one leg and singing your alphabet backwards. Or do they?

Fear not young creatives. Everyone has to start somewhere and there are plenty of ways to kick-start your career in the arts. It’s all about showing an interest, honing your craft and learning from others. I’m going to list a few ways you can kickastart your career in the arts without having to juggle elephants.

Working In TV Or Radio

BBC Bristol boasts both a TV studio and radio station. Tours of the TV studios are available for £8 to students. There are great opportunities to get involved at BBC Bristol, including signing up to be an audience member for a show you like. Why not get to know how a TV studio works by being part of an audience? Have a look and see if they will accept anyone for an internship or work experience.

Getting Into Theatre

Bristol Old Vic has a plethora of engagement opportunities including a ‘Young Company’ that performs three times a year at various locations, its age ranges from 5-25. They also have great theatre all year round to go and see and they host workshops for performers and writers. There are plenty of theatres in Bristol, switch it up and go and see what each of them have to offer. Build a relationship with a theatre, go to as many performances as you can, get involved in their yearly programme and they are far more likely to remember you and to provide opportunities for you in the future.

Fancy Becoming A Writer?

Why not sign up to a Writer’s Meeting. The aim of a Writer’s meeting is to workshop your writing and receive feedback on how to improve your selected work. Write Club hosts sessions on generating ideas as well. There are many platforms you can write for, including theatre, TV, film and radio. If you want to be a writer you have to write and read a lot. Read everything in your chosen genre, what was good and bad about it? How can you apply that to your writing?

[small interjection from the editor here: Rife has occasional paid opportunities, we run a regular networking event for creatives called The Link and you can submit ideas here]

Want To Sketch Out A Career In Illustration Or Animation?

Why not check out a local animation studio such as Wonky. Get a portfolio of your work together and get it out there on any platform possible. Design T-shirts for your friends and family; research other animators or styles of animation.

Want To Cut To A Career In Film?

Research local filmmakers, send them a script, and ask if you can come to a shoot. Don’t know anyone? Start filming your own stuff; ask if other people want to collaborate on your project. Go to the cinema religiously, read film scripts, research how your favourite filmmaker got the opportunities they did.

[apply for BFI Film Academy 2017/18 here]

Start A Blog

It might seem like everyone is blogging, and maybe they are but so what? If you love writing, make a blog about writing. If you love street art, make a blog about street art. If you were born to dance, then talk about it on your blog. Not only is it a really fun hobby but it’s a great addition to your CV. Employers can look at your blog and see all the time and effort you’ve put into your passion. It will show initiative, creativity and it will show you’re actively pursuing what you’re interested in.

Don’t Be Afraid To Work For Free, But Don’t Be Taken Advantage Of

It’s a fine line, and ultimately it is down to you to decide if the offer of free work or unpaid work is going to pay off in the long run. If you think it will lead to good connections in the industry and great experience for your CV then go for it. Creatives are often asked to work for free and sometimes there is no way around that, just be wary of those who will lead you up the garden path, or dangle a carrot they have no intention of giving you.

[editorial interjection again: here’s Cai Burton’s article on working for free…]

Use The Resources Available To You And Do Your Research

There are so many opportunities out there, you just have to get up and go get them. Research the career of a person in the industry you admire, how did they get their foot in the door? How did they get their big break? What were their choices and why? This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to copy them move for move, but its good to get an idea of how these things work.

I hope this article has shown you a few ways to kick-start your career in the arts. Whatever you’re into, pursue it with passion. Learn from others and show initiative. The most important thing about starting out is building your knowledge and experiences. There is so much to learn and so many talented people out there that you must pursue your passion with gusto.

Good luck everyone and don’t forget to have fun.

Got any other top tips? Let us know in the comments.