The arts and Covid-19

Hoping to set up arts work experience in the summer months? Your plans have either fallen through, or you think they probably will? Here’s our advice…

Firstly, the good news – the Arts Council have announced £160M in emergency support funding for the arts and cultural sector; £90m for their National Portfolio Organisations, £50m for organisations outside that scheme and £20M for existing freelance artists. This, in combination with the government’s pledge to support 80% of workers’ salaries, will have a fundamental impact on the survival of arts organisations, many of which have had to close completely.

You already had something planned?

The impact of the current situation is still evolving. Even if the complete lockdown has ended it is likely that some form of social distancing will still be in place over the summer. Therefore live events will probably not happen in the same way or will have significantly reduced audience numbers. They’ll be focused on how their organisation can continue to make ends meet without a paying audience in their theatre, museum, music venue, etc. so make it easy for them to say yes to your continued involvement. Contact the organisation (by email as they’ll be working from home and office phone numbers may not work). Prepare for the conversation and be proactive with ideas: how might you help remotely, or with events run to a reduced or virtual audience? Might you help re-imagine planned arts outreach activities? If your plans do have to be cancelled, don’t let it be the end of your relationship with the organisation. See if you can postpone rather than cancel entirely.

Should I approach arts organisations now to ask for work experience?

It is still too early to speculate on the kinds of work experience that may be possible by the summer, particularly for smaller organisations. Survival will be their priority, so approach them with suggestions about how you can be useful – fundraising, marketing, technology; ideas for taking their art form online and how you can assist with this.

If you were going to take a show to the Edinburgh Fringe this summer…

By now you will know that the festival will not be taking place.  They say “we are committed to working with artists and creatives from Edinburgh, Scotland and across the world to find new ways of uniting people under a Fringe umbrella. It’s too early to say what this will look like, but we are confident that as a collective we can find a way to reach through the walls that currently surround us and inspire, cheer and connect.” So watch this space, as there may well be opportunities to showcase your creativity in new ways. If it moves online in some way you could be performing to the biggest audience you’ve ever played to 😊

Post-Covid recovery

Arts organisations are putting all their collective creativity into coming up with solutions to continue on and into recovery. The arts and cultural sector is always affected harshly by economic downturns, but equally they are hugely important for recovery and they always find a way to bounce back.

What is very likely is that after many months without ticket income, most arts organisations won’t have funds to pay you for internships and work experiences this summer and beyond.  The support funding they receive will be for keeping their buildings going, paying their key staff, and then for their art form when they do reopen. If you do find a volunteering opportunity in an arts or cultural organisation, the Careers Service Bursaries are still open for applications – final deadline for these is Monday 15 June at midnight.

How can I use this time?

Start thinking creatively about how you can use these times to develop skills that will contribute to recovery for arts organisations. It is clear that knowledge of technology and social media is key, so if you’ve been skirting around tech with trepidation, now is the time to dive in. There is a huge array of apps and social media which can be overwhelming: look online and see how different arts organisations are tackling this, and therefore what skills you might focus on.

Keen to speak with a careers adviser about your future plans? Click here to book an appointment


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