Community arts workers plan, develop and oversee community arts projects/programmes, raise funding for such projects and generate local interest and/or involvement in the arts.
Generally, they work in areas where there are social, cultural or environmental issues to be addressed. They use a range of art forms to engage with these different community groups, including:
- carnival arts;
- creative writing;
- visual arts.
Types of Community Arts Worker
Community arts worker is more of an umbrella term as job titles tend to relate quite closely to the role or type of work; similar titles are arts development officer, youth engagement officer, youth arts practitioner, and community projects assistant. Creative practitioners are usually freelance creative professionals.
Project work may fall into categories such as race, gender, disability, health and the environment, and may focus on the following groups:
- young people, especially those at risk;
- young offenders;
- homeless people;
- people with disabilities and mental health conditions;
- ethnic minorities;
- the elderly;
- drug and alcohol users.
Employers of Community Arts Worker
Typical employers include community centres, schools and prisons. There are also opportunities for self-employment in community arts work: freelance and consultancy work may be possible.
Many art and cultural organizations also have an outreach remit and are committed to making their art forms and venues more accessible. These include:
They can employ education and community officers, who work directly with community groups, introducing them to their respective art forms through workshops, events and other activities.
- identifying the needs of a wide range of community groups and adapting projects to these needs
- working with community groups to establish the most appropriate art form for each project
- designing relevant programmes for different communities
- setting up, monitoring and evaluating projects, including managing one-off events like carnivals and festivals
- compiling a database of professionals available to work on projects
- supporting community groups and offering advice on fundraising and forming projects
- managing budgets including writing funding bids as well as performing routine administrative duties
- liaising with local authorities, schools and companies to encourage interest and support from possible funders, arts workers and community members
Many community arts workers are qualified or trained in a particular arts discipline. Although this area of work is open to all graduates, foundation degree holders, or qualifications in the following subjects may increase your chances:
- art, design, fine art;
- art history;
- contemporary art:
- drama, theatre, dance or performing arts;
- event management;
- media, film or photography;
- teaching and education.
Entry without a degree is also possible. Emphasis is placed on having the right skills and experience.
- creativity in one or more art forms and an understanding of the creative process;
- the ability to generate new ideas;
- the ability to facilitate the creativity of others and a willingness to share their own creative work and work collaboratively with creative professionals;
- team-working skills, as well as self-motivation and time management skills;
- written and oral communication skills;
- organizational and administrative skills;
- awareness of the context of the work, including issues of social regeneration and inclusion;
- knowledge of the specific needs of different community groups;
- an enthusiasm for working with groups in the community and a willingness to build relationships with these different groups; strong interpersonal skills, patience, empathy, a positive approach and respect for others;
- project management skills;
- flexibility and adaptability;
- negotiating skills, especially to secure funding for projects;
- basic business knowledge, especially if working freelance;
- confidence in decision making and a proactive approach to work.