I want to/work in the arts, I am over 26...Where is my support?

John Garfield-Roberts, 2 October 2012

Participants: James Baker, Aliki Chapple, Kathryn Worthington, Richard Grossil, Amber Knipe, Steph Brocken, John Roberts & many more throughout the session.

This session as predicted threw up far more questions than answers, participants ranged from different countries, different ages and different areas of the arts, all who offered a different insight and expereince to the question.

This report aims to reflect the session and thoughst within rather than provide a definitive answer to what was raised.

There were several worries that schemes that have an age range goes against the “Arts for All” philosophy. Participants within the session expressed concern that a great wealth of talent and expereince could be cut off from entering the arts through lack of support systems and opportunities.

Arts should be about multi-disciplines and that age, class etc all bring something unique and interesting to the mix…possibly being the profession that most reflects “Real life” than many others?

One participant raised the question is theatre still percieved as an older person's art form? What are the factors that perpetuate this type of thinking? Are these under 26 schemes an answer in part from arts organisations to help re-address the balance.

Do these schemes originate from a need to create policy and tick boxes, or are they based on actual need? Is there not enough need for similar schemes for the over 26s?

Real concerns were heavily raised and labelled as “misguided” if these schemes have been created to just tick boxes.

One argument came that from personal expereince working within the arts council that new and emerging work tends to come more from the 23-25 age bracket, has this influenced deciscions on where to target funding and opportunities?

There was a strong feeling that people expect things, you leave university you get a job, you do this work placement you will get a job and that the arrogance than can be created by schemes such as this can have real detrimental affects not only to the provider but also the participant…what will be the outcome of such opportunities once you have reached the age threshold or completed your internship?

One participant commented back that these schemes seem to create and go back to the thinking of “a one job life” where in fact many people face many crossroads at many times in their lifes and on average people will change career at least twice, where are the schemes to help support people in this situation?

It was asked are these schemes linked too heavily with unemployment rates and dropping audiences figures within the target age range…do you need young creators to actually create work for younger audiences?

It was noted that support doesn't nessacerily mean financial support, that in fact mentorship, guidence and advice/support in kind are just if not more vital to those older members then any financial remuneration.

The theatre company Qurantine offer a new service called GRAFT - designed to help artists at a crossroad, through peer to peer sharing and support, creating a 2 way dialogue, they already have several well known clients who after many years in the industry are struggling in various ways. (Should there be more schemes like this nationwide?)

One participant mentioned that what schemes are available even to the younger ages are so widespread…that a one stop shop website idea was pitched. A place where all schemes from various companies can be listed and applied for through.

One member mentioned that it was the success of social media that have started to breakdown and make information more accessible…It was mentioned that when they were younger and their background, they wouldn't have known about half of these schemes even when they were in the target bracket…Is there a bigger push needed from the organisation to get the information to those on the fringes of “Knowledge”

It was felt that in order for the arts to be balanced that access and opportunity should be given to all irrespective of age/race/class/disability.

It was mentioned that the Royal Exchange are opening a new & Emerging directors scheme, where by people apply by application…it was a concencus within the group that whilst schemes like this are to be welcomed, that the schemes should be open and transparent in how the directors are selected. This sentiment was felt and should be welcomed across the whole industry.

More questions to ask/explore?

Can buildings/theatres make more of an effort to give opportunities to those at different stages of their careers regardless of age? Can They help develop and support and mentor artists within their own catchment area/doorstep?

Have schemes like this been set up to answer a generational problem? Will we see in 10 years time a shift to schemes that are for 25-35 year olds?


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