The Past Month: Honing Our Vision

The past month has been busy; filled with tour content preparation, exciting meetings with our website designer and even more exciting meetings with the organizations that we are considering working with to achieve Arts Unlocked’s most important function: helping to make careers in the arts not only accessible, but also sustainable for talented and determined people, regardless of family background or personal wealth.

Our vision:

Many universities are involved in Broadening Participation schemes, encouraging Further Education College students without the benefits of financial and class privilege into arts degrees and creating access for them. However we have recognized that it is also important to prepare students for the long, hard and expensive slog that can await beyond the first degree, and also to provide practical means for them to earn as they go. Arts Unlocked London aims to be a leading light in this.


Pictured above: We met with Josie and Bryony from Arts Emergency to talk about broadening participation at stage 1: undergraduate level.

1/ Broadening participation at stage 1: Some profit from each tour goes into a pot and during the summer a number of Further Education college students will have their places on our Introduction to Art History and Making Sense of Modern Art summer short courses paid for. Short courses can be crucial in helping students to understand art’s relevance to them, to feel comfortable around it, to ask frank questions about it and to meet arts professionals who will hopefully prove to be allies in their future careers should they choose to enter the field.

2/ Sustaining careers at stage 2: Most of our excellent AUL Experts are early career academics and museum professionals. Our field is one of the few in which ‘early career’ means post-doctorate with lecturing experience and perhaps a published book or two. In those early years between MA and Post Doc or Lectureship, university teaching work can be scarce and museum work unpaid, but both are necessary for career progression. Likewise the artists among our number are at exciting stages in their careers. Post-MA, they are exhibiting their work nationally and internationally, as well as keeping the studios necessary to create their work. This process, necessary to any artist, is both expensive and time consuming.

Bright and talented people who are passionate about the career paths they have chosen are by and large willing to pay their dues this way in order to achieve their goals, but it necessitates a means of working that is flexible and well-paid enough for them to spend part of each week either writing for PhD or publication, gaining work experience, creating artwork or attending conferences. Guiding with us allows AUL Experts to use the extensive knowledge gained on PhDs and from working with museum collections first hand, as well as their talent for effective educating, to help them sustain careers.

Will this work? We think so! Here are some photos from our first Meeting of Minds:

Emotionally and intellectually, the company of people who are in the same field is necessary in an arts career as research and the creative process can be equally isolating. It was great to see some of the Experts come together in the British Museum for the first time this week, to have their photographs taken for the AUL website. Paul, Alex, Nicola and Rachel shared their research love of teaching, and listening to them converse was like being in an art and design history think-tank. We look forward to many more AUL get-togethers, when we will be able to share our thoughts on art and life, swap ideas and encourage each other.

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Our Expert and photographer Paul, photographs our British Museum Expeerts Nicola and Alex in front of the Parthenon Marbles…

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Alex schools the Experts on a point of Byzantine History before lunch…

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Paul and Nicola hit it off over talk about teaching and guiding…

…And we all go for tea in one of AUL’s recommended lunch spots – the London Review Bookshop, near the British Museum.

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