An online survey generated a 17% return from artists and students who took part in the first six AIRTIME events that took place in Plymouth, Sheffield, Manchester, London (two events) and Swansea between February and June 2009.
The majority of AIRTIME attendees described themselves as emerging artists and are looking for flexible and bespoke professional development and networking sessions which both allow them to meet with their peers and to discuss and critique their own creative practices and receive business support from art professionals.
When asked what kinds of support they wanted next, most want help identifying resources for a specific project or to devise their own development plan whilst only half were looking for training needs analysis.
The survey revealed some differences in type of professional development needs amongst artists in different locations.
Whilst 48% of the survey as a whole thought ‘business support’ was very important, in Swansea, where participation amongst students was highest it rose to 84%. In London were there were a great percentage of established artists attending, it was cited as very important by 60%.
Training needs analysis was thought very important by 43% of Sheffield participants, who encompassed the highest percentage of mid-career artists (60%), which may suggest that artists at this career stage feel a greater need for this type of guidance.
98% of all artists attending rated help with identifying resources or funding for a project as either very important or important. Similarly, 85% saw networking events as an important part of their own development.
And whilst the majority of responses from all sessions showed that help to devise a development plan was important or very important, this was the case for 100% of London artists.
When asked about the extent to which they made use of local and regional organisations for advice and information, in Sheffield where 60% of participants were mid-career 100% used them ‘a lot’, whilst in London where 12% of participants were established artists, this elicited the highest percentage of ‘not used’ (33%) and ‘not relevant’ (5%) responses.
There was little enthusiasm for training courses, with most participants not using them within their professional development. Sheffield had the largest percentage of non-users (87%), whilst 17% of Swansea participants didn’t think training courses were relevant to their practice.
When asked about the value of AIRTIME in support of their practice, 88% of AIRTIME participants found them either very useful or useful. Comments included: “This event helps motivate and orientate artists in their work practice; being an artist may often feel isolating”, “Excellent for finding out what is out there and which organisation can give further assistance”, and “It makes you stand away from yourself and your work because it [encourages] one to be pro-active!”. 94% of participants would recommend the events to other artists.
AIRTIME was developed during 2008 in recognition of the anticipated impact economic recession would have on artists and their livelihoods. Events are organised in partnership with regional bodies and universities and draw together a self-selecting medley of local, regional and national organisations. They are free and open to artists and final year art students attending. The programme has not received any funding or financial support. We are grateful for in-kind support from partners through staff/expert time and from venues that generally either do not charge for room or equipment hire or do this on a nominal basis.
AIRTIME events provide a busy, fast-paced, interactive environment designed to demonstrate how artists need to utilise networks and contacts to develop their knowledge and career. It is purposeful that artists and students who have booked do not receive a detailed description of what is on offer and make a pre-selection, but have to work fast on the day to make choices about who they engage with and how they make use of the time available to them.
To read the full survey results click here
To find out about forthcoming AIRTIME events and to book your place click here
a-n.co.uk August 2009