Community Arts Worker

The Job and What's Involved

Community arts workers help local communities to plan, organise and take part in arts activities like drama, dance, mural painting, photography, creative writing and film and video production.

Your tasks could include:

  • Supporting existing groups and developing new groups and activities.
  • Working with local community groups to identify local needs and concerns.
  • Creating art work for or with the community.
  • Helping community members to develop their own ideas.
  • Leading meetings and training activities.
  • Advising on grants, sponsorship and other sources of funding.
  • Writing funding bids and proposals, managing budgets and doing general administration.
  • Encouraging interest and support from possible funders, arts workers and community members.
  • Publicising activities through the press, local radio, leaflets and posters.
  • Managing projects, making sure they stay on track and assessing how successful they have been.

Depending on the job, you may focus on practical creative work and support of projects, or on administration and management.

You will often work with other organisations such as health, youth and education services.

Your working hours will depend on the needs of the community and the projects you are involved in. You will often work at weekends and in the evening.

You could work in a variety of places, such as community centres, libraries, youth centres, schools, prisons and care homes. You may be involved in outside events, like carnivals and street theatre.

Salaries can start at around £16,000 a year. More experienced community arts workers can earn from £20,000 to over £25,000.

Contracts are often short-term and/or part-time. Earnings for part-time jobs will be a portion of full-time rates (known as 'pro rata' payment).

Freelance workers often charge a daily rate.

Getting Started with this Career Choice

To be a community arts worker you will usually need to be qualified and experienced in a specialist area of the arts such as music, visual arts, dance, drama, music or creative writing.

To find work, the most important thing is relevant experience. Volunteering is a good way of both getting experience and making contacts.

You can find out about local community arts projects that you might be able to get involved in from:

The Voluntary Arts Network website.

The arts officer (or similar job title) at your local council.

The Arts Councils.

You could find work with local authorities, theatres, museums and galleries, and community arts organisations. You may also have the opportunity to work with regional arts councils or development agencies.

You could also look in local telephone directories or search the internet for local community arts organisations.

Alternatively, you could do freelance work, running projects or setting up initiatives using funding from the National Lottery or other funding groups.

Education and Training

You may find a community arts qualification useful, although this is not essential for getting work. BTEC HND's, foundation degrees or degree courses in community arts, offered by a few universities, combine the study of an art form such as fine art or dance with the theory and principles of community arts.

To search for foundation degrees, HND's and degrees see the UCAS website.

If you already have a qualification in an arts subject, you could complete a postgraduate course in community arts, although this is not essential. To search for postgraduate courses see the Postgrad website.

You should check entry requirements with individual colleges and universities. Experience is as important for getting onto a community arts course as it is for paid work.

You will need to have Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) clearance to work with young people and other vulnerable groups.

A Few More Exams You Might Need

As a community arts worker, you can complete training to update and develop your knowledge and skills in areas such as:

- Your arts specialism
- Management
- Marketing and PR
- Project management
- Getting funding
- New legislation
- Health and safety
- Child protection

Visit the Voluntary Arts Network and Foundation for Community Dance websites for details of some relevant courses.

You may also be able to attend training run by local councils and local community arts organisations.

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Skills and Personal Qualities Needed

A community arts worker needs:

  • A good overall knowledge of the arts.
  • Experience in one or more arts areas.
  • Good communication and 'people' skills.
  • The ability to organise your time and work to deadlines.
  • Good project management skills.
  • The ability to raise funds and manage budgets.
  • A proactive and creative approach.
  • Enthusiasm and self-motivation.
  • The ability to motivate community members and build up their confidence.
  • Patience and tolerance.

Your Long Term Prospects

In larger organisations you may be able to progress to a senior job.

As a freelance, you could move on to larger projects with bigger budgets as you gain experience.

Get Further Information

Foundation for Community Dance,
LCB Depot, 31 Rutland Street, Leicester LE1 1RE
Tel: 0116 253 3453

Voluntary Arts Network

Arts Council England
Tel: 0845 300 6200

Creative and Cultural Skills,
Lafone House, The Leathermarket, Weston Street, London SE1 3HN

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