The Weston Jerwood Creative Bursaries programme has announced the first round of its UK-wide placements, which will enable 40 graduates from lower income backgrounds to receive paid work in the arts.

The scheme is aimed at securing the future diversity of the creative industry’s workforce, by removing the reliance on unpaid internships that can prevent many new graduates from getting a foothold in the sector.

“The placements offer an extraordinary range of roles available in the arts,” said programme director Kate Danielson. “They are all vital roles which seek to develop talent whilst providing the capacity and resources needed to sustain innovation and quality in the sector as a whole.”

£430,000 has been committed through the programme. This will part-fund opportunities in a variety of participating organisations, all of which were invited to apply. The first recipients to be announced include Brodie Sim, who will join the team at The Common Guild gallery in Glasgow, and Danil Boparai, who joins Eastside Projects in Birmingham.

Katrina Brown, director of The Common Guild, said: “The scheme, which is active in Scotland for the first time, is a fantastic way of creating excellent opportunities for recent graduates. We know how difficult it can be for those who need to work to earn a living to gain the necessary experience when starting out in the visual arts.”

The Common Guild pays its staff the Living Wage or above and is committed to paying artists, even in the face of difficult financial circumstances with diminishing local authority support. “Although Glasgow does at least still provide grants to cultural organisations, in contra to many other places in the UK, we are none-the-less thrilled to be involved in the scheme,” added Brown.

Joining the team for 12 months, Sim will work specifically on engagement and events and will, said Brown, “gain invaluable experience of event coordination and work with diverse groups across our programme.”

Organisational structure

Ruth Claxton, associate director at Eastside Projects, said that as well as supporting individuals, the bursaries help organisations flourish too. “Over the last five years we have developed an organisational structure built around our annual assistant posts. The invitation to participate in the programme recognises the work we have been doing in this area.”

Assistants at Eastside Projects form the core team and as such are involved in all aspects of the gallery’s activity, from day-to-day tasks to strategic development of the structures and ideas that underpin the organisation. During his year as digital assistant, Boparai will work on the gallery’s new website, developing new online resources and projects.

Claxton added: “For Eastside Projects it’s particularly great that this programme is working with organisations on different scales that are based across the UK. It feels more urgent than ever to work together to create access to opportunities in order to maintain a diverse and thriving cultural sector, and funding like this is vital.

“We look forward to supporting Danil over the next year, and to seeing how he supports, develops and impacts on Eastside Projects.”

Other announced bursary recipients are Olivia Barratt (Made at Somerset House, London) and Tayah Preece (Manchester International Festival). Further Creative Bursary roles still to be appointed include digital artist in residence (Clean Break, London) and gallery technical officer (g39, Cardiff).