The Weston Jerwood Creative Bursaries is a nationwide programme supporting arts organisations to expand their approach to diverse recruitment and talent development, and build their capacity for outstanding artistic production. In this third edition 40 new, paid, entry-level roles in the arts were created for recent graduates from working class/low socio-economic backgrounds at 39 leading arts organisations nationally.
The programme addresses the socio-economic barriers that outstanding, skilled graduates entering the workplace place 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 Arts 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 Arts, 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 Arts, 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 created a powerful peer network of 39 organisations and 40 talented recent graduates from low socio-economic backgrounds. 80% of placements were outside of London, ensuring that recent graduates and organisations nationally can thrive. The 40, 12-month placements were 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 grounded 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.
We introduced a new progression element for this edition to support the participants’ self-directed professional development. A total of 12 participants were awarded grants of between £500 and £5000. Many of the projects are new collaborations between participants on the programme and provide opportunities to develop their creative practice, undertake training and mentoring or support new ideas that will continue beyond the end of their placements. You can read a full list of Ideas Fund funded projects.
To date, the Creative Bursaries programme has worked with 110 of the UK’s best arts producers and organisations across art forms to kick-start the careers of 124 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.
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.
Download the Weston Jerwood Creative Bursaries Launch PR
Download the Policy Briefing, Weston Jerwood Creative Bursaries Programme, 2017-19
Download the Weston Jerwood Creative Bursaries 2017-19 Evaluation