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Careers In Scottish Arts And Culture

Whatever career path you opt for, it’s always worth finding out if the job is really for you before you decide to commit. In the arts and culture world, doing a bit of work experience or volunteering is an easy way of gaining a bit of knowledge without any of the usual obligations. Showing that you are keen to learn all that you can about your chosen career path will also stand you in good stead when it comes to applying for courses or jobs.

For instance, if your interests lie in stage production contacting your local theatre is a good first step. You can learn a great deal about the technical aspects of production by watching professionals at work. Similarly, being involved in a local dance school or drama group are other sure ways of gaining a little know-how. Even volunteering at your local tourist attraction can show that you are keen to pursue a culture-based career. Before long you’ll have a good idea of whether or not the job is for you.  

If you are interested in an arts-based career Scotland has a lot to offer. From music and dance to art and drama there’s a host of different specialities to choose from. But gone are the days where you could just rely on your natural talents. Today it takes a lot of hard work and dedication to make it in the arts. One of the most popular routes into the arts industry is through study. Many people undertake a degree in their specialist subject, using their time at university to not only hone their skills but also build up contacts. Networking is a key factor in the arts world and by using your time wisely, you can graduate with a degree and plenty of important connections. 

Some of the most popular Scottish institutions include The Glasgow School of Art, the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and Gray’s School of Art in Aberdeen. Founded in 1845, Glasgow School of Art is one of Europe’s leading creative institutions. Covering art, architecture, design and digital technology graduates are held in high regard. Many students go on to work for big names in design like Apple, Ford, L’Oreal and Gap. At the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland you can study a whole range of arts-based disciplines including dance, drama, music, film and production. Based in Glasgow it attracts students from all over the world. But as well as a traditional application, you’ll have to be prepared to audition too. Gray’s School of Art is another popular establishment which offers plenty of choice. You can opt for an arts-based degree – both full-time and part-time - in a whole range of different subjects including photography, fashion and painting.

Studying can also be a great way to start your career in a culture or heritage-based occupation. There are plenty of college and university courses throughout Scotland which can help you on your way – especially if you already know the area in which you want to specialise. For instance a history degree is a good foundation if you’re looking to join an agency like Historic Scotland or work for the National Trust. For those looking to work for a museum or gallery, a degree or postgraduate course in heritage or museum studies would be a better bet.   

If university life isn’t for you, then a traineeship might be a better route into your ideal job. Every year Creative Scotland supports a small number of traineeships across the arts with the goal of developing more opportunities in the industry. Aimed at 20-30 year olds, the traineeship lasts for one year and is full-time. You’ll need to be dedicated and enthusiastic but if it all works out it can be a fantastic way to start your career. Modern Apprenticeship programmes are also available within the arts world, but with only a handful of places available ever year competition is rife. You’ll need to really stand out from the crowd to be lucky enough to gain a place.

For those interested in a heritage of culture-based career both traineeships and Modern Apprenticeships are more readily available. Covering everything from stonemasonry and gardening to museum practice they can be a great way of establishing your career. However, many tend to be location-based so depending on your speciality it could mean moving home or temporary relocating in order to complete the training.

Over the last few years internships have been gaining in popularity too. Within the arts many internships tend to focus on projects – giving trainees and recent graduates vital experience of working alongside industry professionals. In heritage and culture-based positions, internships tend to focus on more managerial-type positions. Embarking upon an internship can give a fantastic insight into your chosen career. But just like any other position of this kind, it’s worth remembering that they tend to be both temporary in nature and lower paid. If you do decide that an internship offers you everything you’re looking for, try to plan ahead. Use your time efficiently to network, look out for jobs and keep your CV up-to-date. When the internship eventually finishes you want to be able to use all you’ve learned to bag yourself your ideal job.     

A career based in Scottish arts or heritage can be both exciting and demanding. You’ll need to be prepared to rely on more than just talent or knowledge to succeed – possibly studying at university or even embarking upon a traineeship. But with dedication, a little luck and the right attitude you can quickly make a name for yourself and enjoy a career that’s not like any other.

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