Student pathways working in the commercial and funded arts as part of their learning

Freelance & commercial practice influencing and benefitting from curriculum. Can subject relevant employment feature within the holistic learning of Arts students and their learning through BTEC curriculum? Project led by Digby Chacksfield.

About the project

What is the project about?

Can subject relevant employment feature within the holistic learning of Arts students and their learning through BTEC curriculum?

The Arts industry is made up of two distinct areas. Purely commercial and a blend of commercial and Government defined areas which are supported through DCMS funding as well as commercial activity. Within visual art we have students who are already selling their work or doing paid work as graphic designers and photographers. All students leaving level 3 Visual Arts are employable within the sector and have good general employability skills.

We know there is a shortage of artists, designers, photographers, sound, animation, graphic design, set designers, prop makers, scene painters and arts managers in the sector. This is born out by a recent College trip to Warner Brothers studios, who offer apprenticeships in set construction film making photography concept art, prop making. During a presentation it was stated that “there is a shortage of arts workers in the film industry.” We know also an increase in productivity in the games industry is a viable opportunity for students to work freelance to contribute to the design elements of games. Graphic Design is everywhere and used by all industries, some of our students are already picking up work to help local business. The BTEC specification across Visual Arts aligns with professional expectations of he industry. The study therefore, wants to explore the potential for a commercial and curriculum symbiosis that enable students to learn, practice and earn in their sector. This would be preferable for many students to working in other part time jobs.

With this need in mind the study wants to explore the potential for IEG visual arts students to be gaining part time work in the industry they are aiming to enter whilst studying at FE level. The high quality of teaching and learning in this subject area has already enabled a number of students to undertake commissions, photography and design jobs. The study can demonstrate a potential symbiosis of learning, applying and earning. Kolb’s learning cycle taken to a commercial place. Commercial arts workers and legal and financial experts would be involved in stage 2 of the project.

The vision for the project is that students leave IEG with the confidence, knowledge and experience of working commercial and managing their own small business.

What is the benefit to students?

Students will gain live industry and business support and build their own brand. Ideally by the end of the research students will use curriculum learning of skills and professional practice, external mentor support to enter the arts market in a junior freelance capacity.

How will the impact of the project be measured?

The impact of the project will be measured through baseline and conclusion surveys. The monitoring of student’s commercial activity and links to industry mentors and examples of the application of studies in this context.

What will the outcome be?

The outcome for Level 3 students would be that they can prove the potential to earn money from activity directly related to their studies and is beneficial to their studies within the BTEC Art & Design framework. We would see student confidence to enter the freelance sector with a clear set of actions to begin trading. Curriculum would develop ways of incorporating commercial practice within assessment criteria e.g. Professional Practice.

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