An interview with our Artsmark Officer, Phil…

Date Created: 21st Nov 2018

Black and white head and shoulders portrait of Phil Wiles

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Words: Meg Hockley

Our newest team member Phil began his role back in August, when he was hired to replace our previous member of the team, Andrea, who left to embark on her travels. Before Artswork, Phil worked for the Science Museum in Winchester and has a degree in Biomedical Science. Phil has not only brought humour to the team (much like Andrea when she was here!), but has also engaged us with lots of random scientific facts he has picked up in his studies and personal life.

Within his role, Phil carries out a range of tasks that are vital to ensuring the Artsmark programme runs efficiently. One of the main tasks Phil has successfully taken over is organising Development Days. These training days are the vital first steps for education settings as they embark on their journey towards achieving the Artsmark award. They begin work on a ‘Statement of Commitment’ as part of committing themselves to ensuring a creative and cultural curriculum in their school or other setting. The day is also a chance for settings to be briefed on what the Artsmark process looks like, whilst sharing ideas with other settings in attendance.

I spoke to Phil to get an idea of what his first few months with Artswork have been like…

What originally made you apply for the post?

I really wanted to work in the third sector and ensure my work has a positive impact on the world and on people. A friend sent the job advertisement over and encouraged me to apply as I had a lot of the skills Artswork wanted. I really love Southampton and wanted to work here. The city and its culture is something I find interesting. The shift from my previous working life within Science intrigued me too. Overall the sector, role and the location suited me down to the ground.

Were you aware of Artsmark and Arts Award before being employed here?

No, I was aware of the Arts Council but only so far as their grant offers. I wasn’t aware at all of their educational role and was pleasantly surprised. When working in the third sector, it seems you can find lots of new, exciting organisations working to make the world a more humane and interesting place.

Have there been any surprises within your role or anything you didn’t expect?

The fact that I already knew a number of people within the organisation was a surprise. I have been involved in many community projects which happened to involve members of Artswork staff. The range of skills within this organisation is wonderful; everyone seems to have a diverse range of artistic pastimes.

How have you found organising and attending Development Days?

It’s been quite a steep learning curve! Attending them has been very interesting though, hearing about the challenges educational settings face. Especially Youth Justice settings. It’s also increased my appreciation of art galleries and museums.

Have you gone through any developments as a result of this role and if so, which one was most significant?

I believe I have got significantly better at assertive communication through communicating with a wide range of stakeholders and partner organisations, all of whom have quite varied perspectives and desired outcomes. Managing relationships and communicating my own views and opinions respectively and effectively has developed me. However there is still a great deal to learn!

Have you got any of your own artistic endeavours?

I wouldn’t consider myself particularly artistic, but I do like to perform stand-up comedy. Most of my stand-up is about ideas and eccentric people like scientists, as there are so many wonderful true stories that are a lot more absurd than I could ever dream up. It also saves me the trouble of writing my own jokes! I also help run a community science organisation called The Science Room, where we endeavour to find creative answers to people’s questions about Science and the general world around them. We host this at The Art House, a local café in Southampton.


You can find out more about how Artsmark works here


Artsmark South East Bridge Work-based learning

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