The programme addresses the socio-economic barriers that outstanding, skilled graduates entering the workplace face and is open to graduates from low-income backgrounds who were in receipt of a full maintenance grant throughout university. The Weston Jerwood Creative Bursaries Programme is designed and managed by Jerwood Charitable Foundation in partnership with British Council. It has been made possible through the combined support of Arts Council England’s Ambition for Excellence Fund, Garfield Weston Foundation, Jerwood Charitable Foundation, CHK Charities Limited and PRS Foundation.
Unpaid internships and poor recruitment practices are a barrier which threaten to impact on the diversity and vibrancy of our future arts workforce. This programme champions new voices and promotes the potential for positive change through sharing evidence of best practice in recruitment and talent development. Its beneficiaries are the potential arts leaders of the future; those who in turn should be powerful advocates for the cultural change needed to achieve real, ingrained diversity in the arts. Providing these bursaries goes some way to making entry into the arts a level playing field and ensures those with talent, if not financial backing, are given the opportunity to succeed. Support from Arts Council England's Ambition for Excellence funding will increase the sustainability of the programme and extend the impact for the sector through intensive evaluation and sharing of what is learnt.
Fair access to opportunities is one of the most urgent issues facing the arts today. It is excellent that we have been able to fund Jerwood Charitable Foundation, in whose expert hands this project will have the best possible impact. By engaging participants in strong principles of inclusion they will go on to open doors for others, and create lasting and meaningful change in the sector.
Joyce Wilson, London Area Director, Arts Council England.
Working with new delivery partners including the British Council, the Weston Jerwood Creative Bursaries 2017-2019 is creating a powerful peer network of 40 organisations and 40 talented recent graduates from low socio-economic backgrounds. 80% of placements are outside of London, ensuring that recent graduates and organisations nationally can thrive. The 40, 12-month placements are remunerated in line with Living Wage Foundation's guidance and were recruited through open application according to financial and academic eligibility criteria between October 2017 and February 2018.
Alongside these paid year-long placements, a development programme for all participants ground their on-the-job experience with valuable training, seeding a strong peer network and legacy for the programme, alongside a new international strand, including 15 international placements for selected participants, and an international training trip for all 40 participants.
To date, the Creative Bursaries programme has worked with 75 of the UK’s best arts producers across art forms to kick-start the careers of 84 talented people from lower socio-economic backgrounds; in Truro, Wakefield, Belfast, Leeds, London, Margate, Cardiff, Birmingham, Glasgow and beyond. Critically, it allows organisations to develop new year-long job roles which close skills gaps in their greatest areas of need. See a full list of participants here.
The programme has raised the profile of the debate around diversity, with press coverage in Arts Professional, Arts Industry Magazine (AI) and The Stage and has directly resulted in job creation, with 60% of placements being extended and 32 % of roles being made permanent, or leading to longer term employment relationships, across both editions. The initiative was included as a case study in DCMS’ Culture White Paper and referred to as exemplary in Arts Council England’s commissioned report Analysis of Theatre in England.
In November 2015 an alumnus of the inaugural edition, Aaron Wright, was announced Artistic Director of Fierce Festival. Aaron’s placement was with Live Art Development Agency in 2010.
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The Weston Jerwood Creative Bursaries 2017-19 programme is designed and managed by Jerwood Charitable Foundation in partnership with the British Council. It has been made possible through the combined support of Arts Council England’s Ambition for Excellence Fund, Garfield Weston Foundation, Jerwood Charitable Foundation, CHK Charities Limited and PRS Foundation.