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Community arts worker

Plans, develops and oversees community arts projects/programmes, raises funding for such projects and generates local interest and/or involvement in the arts.

Community arts in Ireland are now a well-established and growing aspect of Irish cultural life, reflecting an increasing concern for inclusiveness and broader public access to the arts. In recent years considerable development has taken place in both the public and voluntary sectors. The opportunities for employment for graduates in this field are considerable and growing.

Community Arts Worker tends to be used as an umbrella term for jobs in the community arts area, for example arts development officer, youth arts project officer and community projects assistant.

Community arts workers use a range of art forms, including visual arts, theatre, dance, music, carnival arts and film to engage and collaborate with different community groups where there are social, cultural or environmental issues to be addressed. The work varies considerably between the facilitation and sometimes delivery of creative projects and more administrative responsibilities, depending on the role.

Project work may focus on one or more of the following groups: young offenders; people with mental health issues; ethnic minorities; the elderly; drug users and people with disabilities.

Work activities

  • Identifying the needs of a wide range of community groups and adapting projects to these needs
  • Working with community groups to establish the most appropriate art form for each project
  • Designing relevant programmes for different communities
  • Setting up, monitoring and evaluating projects, including managing one-off events like carnivals and festivals
  • Compiling a database of professionals available to work on projects
  • Supporting community groups and offering advice on fundraising and forming projects
  • Managing budgets including writing funding bids as well as performing routine administrative duties
  • Liaising with local authorities, schools and companies to encourage interest and support from possible funders, arts workers and community members, etc.

Work conditions

Travel: frequent travel within a working day is normal and absence from home overnight is occasional. Overseas work is not normally common.

Working hours: these vary, but may include evening and weekend work, especially for those involved in events, performances, etc.

Location: in towns and cities throughout the country.

Opportunities for self-employment: freelance and consultancy work may be possible.

Typical employers

Arts and cultural organisations such as:

  • Theatres
  • Art galleries and museums
  • Arts festivals
  • Arts centres
  • Arts Councils and regional arts boards
  • Dance companies
  • Community arts organisations
  • Disability arts organisations
  • Youth organisations
  • Local authorities.

Career development

Career progression tends to be erratic with no formal career path in place. Mobility is more or less essential to gain experience, particularly in the search of senior positions.

Related occupations

  • Community development worker
  • Museum education officer
  • Occupational therapist
  • Youth worker.

Salaries

Salaries vary according to employer and experience. As many community arts workers provide their services on a freelance basis, it is difficult to provide a guideline as to earning potential.

Entry requirements

Entry is open to graduates of all disciplines.

Other relevant degree subjects

  • Drama or theatre
  • Performing arts including dance and music
  • Art history
  • Art, design, fine art
  • Media, film or photography
  • Event management
  • Teaching/education.

Postgraduate study

A postgraduate degree is not essential but may be useful. Postgraduate courses in arts administration and community arts are available.

Training

Training to update and develop knowledge and skills in areas such as funding, health and safety, child protection, marketing and PR can enhance career progression.

Tips for applications

Preference is given to candidates with experience of working with community groups, or in collaborative arts practice. Get involved with student or community events such as street carnivals, or find relevant temporary work, eg with arts festivals.

Skills and qualities

  • Excellent organisational, administrative and project-management skills combined with a thorough understanding of the creative process
  • Awareness of the specific needs of different community groups, including issues of social regeneration and inclusion
  • Excellent teamworking skills, including the ability to work collaboratively with creative professionals
  • Strong interpersonal skills, patience, empathy, a positive approach and respect for others
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills
  • Flexibility/adaptability
  • Negotiating skills (especially to secure funding for projects)
  • Proactive and confident in decision making Creativity in a particular art form(s) and the ability to facilitate the creativity of others.