There are many reasons why people might choose to work in academic art jobs. Working in the field, you could enjoy a wide range of opportunities for self-expression, learning and broadening your horizons. You could interact with people who share similar artistic interests. Having a varied and interesting job will contribute to increased personal enjoyment. Artistic careers can lead to health and well-being benefits.
Academic art jobs come in a range of different shapes. You could work as a lecturer, tutor, researcher, course leader or educational developer, just to mention a few job roles. If you visit the jobs.ac.uk platform, you could browse through a number of full-time permanent and short-term contractual positions.
Working as a lecturer in Fine Art, you will have the opportunity to inspire the next generation of artists. Your students could look at you as a role model, and you will directly influence their career direction for life. Those who teach arts in the Higher Education (HE) sector are in a position to make a genuinely positive difference in the life of young people and to build their confidence.
According to the Royal Academy’s website: ‘The benefits of an arts education to the wellbeing of the individual, and its role in social mobility, are manifold’. Research carried out by the Cultural Learning Alliance and the Bacc for the Future campaign shows that people participating in the arts are close to 40% more likely to enjoy good health. Students from low-income families who participate in art-related activities are three times more likely to get a degree.
Careers in the arts are important. According to a recently published article by the Washington Post, Google revealed that STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) based expertise was not the primary skill set they considered when making recruitment decisions. Google found that the top characteristics of success are all soft skills: being a good coach, communicating and listening well, possessing insights into others, having empathy and being supportive, being a good critical thinker and problem solver, and being able to make connections across complex ideas. Surprisingly, STEM expertise comes last on the list. Studying and working in the arts can lead to increased soft skills and help individuals develop stronger emotional intelligence.
Based on a Gov.UK press release, creative industries contribute almost £13 million to the UK economy. You might be surprised to hear that creative industries are growing more than five times faster than the national economy. Government figures highlight that the country’s creative industries contributed £111.7 billion to the UK in 2018, equivalent to £306 million daily. In recent years, the sector received significant contributions from tech services and the film and television industries, which contributed £45.4 billion and £20.8 billion to the economy respectively.
The above statistics show that there is a range of exciting opportunities working in the arts. As a result of studying and working in this field, individuals can develop valuable skills. Maintaining academic arts jobs can lead to better representation of the arts and ensure that future generations are inspired to work in creative fields.
Academic arts jobs enable partnerships to be established between universities and external organisations. Northumbria University has established partnerships with cultural organisations such as BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, New Writing North, Live Theatre, Tyne and Wear Archive and Museum and Tyneside Cinema. Northumbria University’s partnership with New Writing North has contributed to significant developments in teaching, research and knowledge exchange both nationally and overseas.
University for the Creative Arts (UCA) offers courses covering a range of creative fields. The University established collaborative partnerships such as study abroad initiatives, research partnerships and other external partnerships with businesses. Although these initiatives increase the University’s reputation and credibility, they can be resource-intensive to maintain and develop. In order for partnerships not just to survive but to thrive, the University needs to be able to recruit a steady pipeline of talent.
Cultural partnerships need people in an industry in order to make use of new opportunities. The best partnerships are mutually beneficial. As partners grow and evolve, the partnership grows in alignment. Working with partners can help universities to engage in innovative projects, develop their reputation and make a positive impact. If the number of academic art jobs decreases, universities will have fewer opportunities to take advantage of partnerships and will miss out on valuable opportunities for growth and innovation.
Despite the growing contribution of arts to businesses, the arts are under threat. Funding for Higher Education arts is considered to be lowered as more priority is given to funding courses such as nurses and computing. The Office for Students, an independent regulator for Higher Education in England, have significant concerns about future cuts which may impact the delivery of art subjects. As highlighted on their websites:
‘We have huge concerns about the impact of these cuts on existing inequalities, the cultural and creative sector talent pipeline, on the ability of our creative industries to remain world-leading in future years, and the message they send about the value of arts subjects.’
A survey by the National Society for Education in Art and Design shows that the number of hours that art and design are taught in schools decreased by 16.5% between 2012 and 2017. Decreasing teaching hours at schools can contribute to fewer young people being interested in arts, and less people wishing to pursue a career in the field.
Budget cuts can also negatively impact hiring decisions, and may result in job losses. Individuals working in academic art jobs often spend years polishing their craft at university before becoming highly specialised. The threat of job cuts and redundancies can negatively impact on employees’ mental health and well-being. If less funding is available in the sector, it is likely that less vacancies will become available. The number of contractual positions could decrease which may lead to talented and skilled professionals having to seek work in a non-art-related field.
Working in the arts can be an exciting, energising and inspiring experience. Based on the range of benefits of working in the arts, the HE sector needs to retain its academic art roles.
Further academic job advice:
- The Different Types of Academic Careers
- Top tips for academic mentoring
- Balancing Academic Research and Teaching
- How to Apply for an Academic Job