MA Arts Management - How to connect students with professional practice

Chris Grady, 29 September 2012

Present: Sarah Crompton, Sarah Ellen, Kat, Ella Kent, Sue Harwood, Elaine Midgley, Chloe Morrell, Deborah Toote, Annette Lidster, Laura Greenfield.

Called to explore how I (Chris Grady) can best connect MA Studenta at Anglia Ruskin with creative organisations across the Arts in Cambridge and accessible areas for their 30 day work based projects. It expanded to a wider valuable discussion on how MAs work, when and how to learn/take courses, and how to connect opportunities with people.

Great ideas included:
Village College Network, Addenbrookes (and non-obvious arts organisations but with a real role to play in the wider ecology of arts provision) Escalator, Cambridge Council (and the Cambridge Arts Network of 800 practitioners).

Wider exploration touched on the following:
* Just as students should set their aims and objectives, so too should the tutors identify their aims for the students and the courses/modules they are presenting
* There is a danger with all these courses that the arts are trying to tick boxes and restrict the freedom of the students to learn in their own ways in an open space manner.
* Students need to realise that the arts especially needs them to gain an equal respect

for the conceptual and academic world of arts study, with the practical employable, business elements of the arts creative practioner - they need to know how to make the right decisions with their art and their future projects and organisations.
* Why do courses - like academia, expand brain/learning, get a piece of paper, have space to think (not much of that in a modern world MA), and experience a new place (Cambridge) and new art forms. Make me more employable.

* Example of great MA at Rose Bruford in theatre for young audiences where the students learn their craft, act/create work, manage a project to create a show, book a space, market the show, put it on in a London theatre. Practical lessons learnt.
* Explored the area of mature studentship with immediate post BA younger students. The feeling was expressed that the study elements were easier and better owned/used by the mature students, but that the placement part of the course may be easier for the younger students - because the placement organisions might prefer young people. Need for the mature student to identify the life skills and transferable knowledge they could bring to a placement organisation.

* A working student should/could really apply the experience of each lecture and section of the course in their day to day working life - so they can embody what they have assimilated. Everyone should HAVE to do work placement, even if they are working in an arts organisation.

* The goodwill of a course is important - some courses might deliver students for placements where the students are not good enough, and indeed some courses might not generate post-grads who are employable at a level the arts might expect. So the particular college needs to be sure they recruit students who could make a difference to the workplace and the arts in general.
* Organisations might prefer to be approached by the college rather than the student, again so that they are clear the quality and needs, opportunities and experiences of the student. Bit of balanced matchmaking.

* Might make a great opportunity to get local arts organisations to come in and pitch why they might want a work placement. Speed dating idea. And get the students to set up the whole project as part of their business course.
* Of course there is a need to ensure that the organisation is not going to exploit the student - they mustn't stuff envelopes or be free labour. It must work for both parties - a contract.

The conversation was widespread and I hope I have encapsulated most of key areas. Thank you for a really helpful response to my question.

Cheers Chris


work placement, learning, arts management, Learning, Escalator, cambridge, placement, work based study, Anglia Ruskin, MA