Community arts workers are responsible for encouraging individuals and families in struggling communities to realise their potential and improve their lives by getting involved in projects and schemes which revolve around different kinds of cultural activities, including fine art, photography, film, music, dance, drama and other performing arts.
Community arts workers can work with people from all kinds of backgrounds, including individuals with mental health problems and physical disabilities. In these cases, the arts are used as a form of therapy or as a way of teaching basic life and learning skills.
Alternatively, these professionals use the arts as a medium for educating communities that are affected by poverty, drugs, violence and neglect.
All kinds of people can benefit from the help and support of community arts workers, such as older people, young offenders, people that are dependent on alcohol or drugs and victims of racial, domestic or commercial exploitation and abuse.
On a day-to-day basis, you will be coordinating and implementing project-based initiatives, liaising with other public, administrative and voluntary agencies and arranging funding and sponsorships from local authorities or businesses for talented individuals and high-priority groups. Moreover, you may be required to carry out general administration and management activities.
In addition to your administrative and organisational tasks, you may be getting actively involved with arts-based activities and working directly with people from different age groups in the communities that you are helping.
Salary & benefits
Starting salaries range between £12,000 and £16,000 for workers with up to two years of experience, and between £20,000 and £30,000 for senior community arts workers.
If you take on a managerial and strategic role within a local authority or an organisation in the third sector, you may earn between £30,000 and £45,000 per annum.
Freelance community arts workers employed on special projects may be paid on a short-term contract basis. The amount you earn, however, will depend on your field of expertise, your amount of experience and the employing organisation’s budget. Daily rates range between £75 and £265 a day.
Your standard working hours may not fall within the standard nine-to-five routine and will usually involve working during weekends and national holidays to accommodate the service users that you are supporting.
Travel across the country is also likely to be a regular fixture, as you may operate across a range of geographical areas if you are involved in community outreach programmes.
While there are no mandatory academic requirements to enter this profession, a relevant degree, foundation degree or vocational qualification in any of the creative arts, public administration, education or teaching will be advantageous.
It’s also a good idea for candidates to gain work experience in community settings before applying for entry-level positions. You could even look into taking specific community arts courses, which are offered by regional arts councils or local education institutions.
Training & progression
On-the-job training and future progress are dependent upon community arts workers maintaining a consistent schedule of learning and professional development, primarily under their own initiative.
Some employers, such as local government authorities, may provide support for people looking to take external courses, while others may provide in-house schemes, such as skills workshops and training seminars.
Prospects for career progression are generally aligned towards management, administration or strategic planning roles.
However, if you wish to continue focusing on the active side of community arts work, you could work in a freelance capacity. Eventually, you might even be able to set up your own dynamic not-for-profit organisation.