Community arts workers use visual arts, theatre, dance, music, carnival arts and film to engage with community groups experiencing social, cultural or environmental problems.
Community arts projects are run in collaboration with participants, which can include organisations as well as residents in a particular area, or a specific group of people – such as young offenders, people with disabilities or mental health issues, refugees or the elderly. Projects bring people together, raise awareness of issues that communities are facing and build confidence and skills.
As part of a project, community arts workers work with professional artists and volunteers as well as members of the community.
Typical responsibilities include:
- identifying the needs of community groups
- designing, monitoring and evaluating arts projects
- teaching performance or creative skills to project participants
- compiling and maintaining databases of professionals available to work on projects
- publicising and managing events, such as festivals
- supporting community groups and offering advice on fundraising and forming projects
- managing volunteers and recruiting artists
- project administration and management, including writing funding bids and making sure artists are paid
- liaising with local authorities, schools and companies to build interest and support from possible funders and community members
Working hours vary, but often involve evening and weekend work when events are on.
Typical employers of community arts workers
- Local authorities
- Community centres
- Cultural organisations (eg museums, art galleries and theatres)
Jobs tend to be advertised locally on local authority and charity websites, social media and community news sources. Specialist arts networks such as Arts Jobs may also advertise vacancies.
You can become a community arts worker both with or without a degree. Aspiring community arts workers will usually need to be trained in a specialist area, such as dance, drama or music. As you progress, you may want to study for a postgraduate course in community arts or management.
Work experience will help an application for a job as a community arts worker. It'll show recruiters that you understand how the sector works and that you have organisational as well as creative skills. It's a good idea to get involved with student or community events such as street carnivals, or to find relevant temporary work, such as with arts or music festivals.
It may also be beneficial to keep up-to-date with the arts sector in general, rather than just your specific area of expertise. This will demonstrate your enthusiasm for the role, as well as your ability to adapt according to the different needs and preferences of the community.
Key skills for community arts workers
- Confidence and competence in one or more art forms
- The ability to influence and teach others, and inspire creativity
- Strong interpersonal skills, including sensitivity and tact
- A non-judgmental attitude and a willingness to work with people of all backgrounds
- The ability to manage funding and keep good records of how it's used.
- IT and social media skills
- The ability to manage projects
- Flexibility and adaptability