Looking back at Artswork’s Creative Enterprise Programme

Date Created: 7th Nov 2018

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Words: Meg Hockley, Artsmark & Arts Award Apprentice, Artswork

Last month, I received my Silver Arts Award after embarking on a two month Creative Enterprise Programme, provided by my employer, Artswork. I was accompanied by a group of about a dozen other young people who shared the common goal of seeking a career in the arts. It was great to meet so many local, like-minded individuals that all possessed talent in different art forms, all with a willingness to share their skill-set. I found the sessions useful, especially hearing from a range of guest speakers about their experiences of freelancing and arts and cultural work in a competitive sector, as they provided tailored advice and support for how we could achieve similar routes in the future ourselves. We were also able to visit and discover exciting new facilities that we may not have known about before, including multiple cultural venues, such as Southampton City Art Gallery, John Hansard Gallery, Makers Guild (located in Portsmouth Guildhall) and Aspex Gallery.

The programme allowed us to understand the processes of running a workshop and how to effectively and creatively implement one without ignoring the overall aim, for example – engaging school leavers. Additionally, we were given advice on how to pitch these project ideas to relevant bodies in order to gain funding or support hypothetically.

After speaking to others in my cohort, it became abundantly clear that everyone had a range of aims for their individual projects and were looking to facilitate a different art form, spanning from fashion design to mini-figure painting. As the programme drew to a close, the penultimate session was dedicated to a few different workshops, which gave the whole group the opportunity to experience the interesting wealth of skill sets. One of the workshops on the day, was run by Kat, a self-confessed ‘dabbler’ in the arts, who organised and led a bag-designing workshop on the day.

I spoke to Kat to discover what her joys and challenges had been:

What would you say was your biggest gain from the programme?

It gave me a better knowledge of the different creative job roles and creative workspaces, for example, learning that Portsmouth Guildhall had the ‘Makers Guild’ space – I just wish it was based in Southampton (closer to me). Another big gain was being able to meet so many lovely, creative people and motivate myself to actually continue my work. I could also see how much I have improved, in a sense.

What were you hoping to get out of the Arts Award?

I don’t know…I was actually just thinking, ‘I’m going to go in blind’, and I didn’t know what I was expecting. I just thought, ‘You know what, it’s going to be different’. What I did get from it was a better understanding and a motivational confidence boost. I would rather not have any expectations whatsoever because if you have low expectations then you might think badly of the programme even if it was good. It was a really good experience.

Are there any changes you would suggest to the programme?

There weren’t that many changes that needed to be done, except maybe where it was going to be located each week. During the last stages of the programme, however, it was okay. I think one thing I would suggest is to be given more hints as to what our arts challenge could have been, with examples at the beginning. Also, personally I would have liked it to last a bit longer as when it came to my arts challenge, I wanted to do more stuff to it.

What would you suggest to other young people looking to embark on this same journey in the future?

Make sure that you don’t have anything piled up and have a good clean schedule because that way you can get the best results. Keep posting your work and hopefully using the programme you can have people seek you out and possibly want to commission your work. Every person that you come across in the group is different and unique and you can take inspiration from all of them. For example, one of the girls in our group loved to do artworks that you usually find in books about plants and wildlife. She applied such delicate pressure to the paper that the pencil work looked like watercolour; it was amazing. Take inspiration from everything and look at the world through different perspectives, as you never know what you might discover.

Why did you choose Bag Design as your project?

I was inspired by the session where a speaker showed us her ‘make your own bicycle’ project and I thought back to when I was in school and some kids didn’t have a backpack at all. Nowadays, bags are very generic too, so I thought bag designing would be a good experience as I could teach kids how to sew. Roughly, from what I had seen, most people didn’t know how to sew at all. It’s a shame as people should still sew, it’s an essential skill. Despite clothing prices rising, when people get holes in their clothes, they feel they need to get new ones. If they could sew, it would still be perfectly good – all you need to know is how to patch the hole. The best way to practice is to get lots of bits of cheap fabrics and just practice and watch tutorial videos. Relaxing music helps as well. A show on Netflix called The Sewing Bee is great too.

Do you feel this has developed your skills for future careers in the arts?

Absolutely, and also it is good for my CV as I can say, “Hey, I did this”, and it is also a good reference as you can learn how to build on your teamwork skills. Not only do you learn about different people but you learn how to connect with them too. I never expected to be learning to do film work either – that was really neat.

What do you see yourself doing in the future?

I’m actually going to an open day at Solent University this month, to look into courses in Animation, Illustration and another Foundation-based course that leads to similar routes. I would like to go back into studying, as I don’t feel I am ready to go straight into the world and say, “Hey I can do this, hire me!” I couldn’t cope with the pressure. Going back into education might actually open up some different techniques maybe. I may start working with polymer clay again and make character figurines.

You can find Kat’s art on her tumblr here: https://rihanguardian13.tumblr.com/ 

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Arts Award South East Bridge Work-based learning

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