By Deborah Stone
A life in the arts comes with high levels of personal satisfaction but commensurate levels of practical frustration. A career with little security, low remuneration, loose and diffuse pathways, it is often a difficult and lonely road.
As Editor at ArtsHub and a huge believer in the importance of the creative arts to society, I am often struck by the power of our niche media organisation to make a difference to those who have chosen to work in this challenging sector. In identifying and providing the information and resources that help artists and arts workers build and sustain careers, ArtsHub is an essential contributor to the arts ecosystem. We are an information highway in a world where many are hitchhiking.
Artists, arts workers and creative arts students hoping to find a career in the arts are often individualists but they need community, structure and support as much as anybody else. With fluid portfolio careers, they need a place to find their next job. With a competitive market place and few formal on-the-job training opportunities, they need professional development, practical advice and skills tailored to building creative business. With a complex, changing policy environment they need targeted news and in-depth analysis. They need networking opportunities, a sense of community and the affirmation that comes from hearing other people's experiences. They need a wellspring and a marketplace and a tribe.
ArtsHub began as a jobs board more than a decade ago and is now the leading jobs site for the arts industry. But we have expanded in response to the sector's needs and now provide all kinds of news and information not only to artists but crucially to those who work in the arts sectors as managers, marketers, curators, policy-makers, programmers and project officers. Our content is distributed through our website and e-bulletins and we are expanding into webinars, videos and e-books and into off-line to events such as conferences and meet-ups.
Increasingly teachers at tertiary level look to ArtsHub to provide a bridge between the academy and the working world, giving students an understanding of the way the arts sector actually works. As a result we are now providing a great deal of career advice of value to students and to emerging artists and arts workers. Managers in the industry tell us students who read ArtsHub are better prepared to work in the sector. It's a sign they are serious about a career.
ArtsHub Special Offer
A look at the most popular content on ArtsHub provides a valuable overview of what matters to people in the industry.
Self-care is clearly at the top of the agenda. Some of our most popular content in the past year has included Why we are burning out in the arts and 50 ways to take care of yourself in the arts. Those in the sector are clearly feeling the stress. Our reporting on the disturbingly high level of suicide attempts in the industry was also very widely read.
It will come as no surprise that concern about funding is also high on the agenda. Financial advice articles such as 50 ways to get money for art and financial skill such as writing a grant application, tax advice for artists and information about sponsorship and philanthropy always do well.
Those working in the sector are very attuned to public policy issues, particularly those that concern the Australia Council and issues of independence or censorship. The movement of funds from the Council to the National Program for Excellence in the Arts, later reinvented as Catalyst, was watched with eagle eyes by the sector. The sector is interested in broad context not just who gets the money, as the interest in David Pledger's analysis Exploitation is at the core of the arts industry illustrates.
A growing area of interest is the burgeoning research on the value of the arts to society. One particularly popular subject was this landmark study measuring what constitutes a healthy dose of the arts.
ArtsHub readers also love a little controversy particularly when it endorses their way of challenging the world. One of our most read items ever was an article entitled Disturbing not pleasing should be arts' role.
The role of stirring the pot is a privilege shared by arts and media. Both stimulate discourse and lead to healthier more engaged societies. Both deserve much more support.
Deborah Stone is Editor of ArtsHub , the leading online resource for Australia's arts sector. Her role is the culmination of a long career as a journalist, a lifetime's passion for the arts and a strong interest in the future of media. Deborah has extensive experience as an arts writer, feature writer and news reporter on major metropolitan newspapers including The Age and The Australian. When not covering the arts for ArtsHub she is probably reading, dancing, going to the theatre or otherwise indulging her passion for all art forms.