On 30 January 2019 the Bow Arts Education team, in collaboration with London College of Fashion and Sarah Bonnell School, Newham, held its inaugural Creative Careers event. The hugely popular event saw 200 Sarah Bonnell students from Years 8 to 11 and their parents come together to meet artists, architects, designers and those from the tech and engineering industries, and to learn about creative pathways.
“This event showed me that you can be anything you want. The creative industry is growing and I am more interested in it.” - Student feedback
The event began with three keynote speakers discussing their career pathways and giving tips and advice on how to make it in the arts sector. Leyla Reynolds, artist, curator and Art Director at gal-dem, emphasised the importance of hard work if you want to start your own venture. She referenced the success of projects she has been involved with at gal-dem, including taking over the Guardian weekend magazine and curating a Friday Late at the Victoria and Albert Museum.
Animation Filmmaker Jessica Ashman discussed the importance of drawing and advice from secondary school art teachers that helped her to view an animation degree as a viable option for university. Jess showed examples of her work – from her Scottish BAFTA-winning animated film Fixing Luka to projects worked on for the BBC, such as producing animations for CBeebies’ OOglies.
Janine Francois, a former student at Sarah Bonnell, rounded off the talks with a high-energy presentation about her journey beyond Sarah Bonnell into academia, writing and lecturing, via experiences in youth work and journalism. Janine advised the students to be the change they want to see – making reference to the underrepresentation of black and minority ethnic (BAME) people in academia and the cultural industries.
“I liked meeting people who had started their own businesses from scratch because it showed me what you can accomplish if you try hard.” - Student feedback
Students were then able to meet and chat with over 40 individuals from across the arts sector in a creative marketplace. Highlights included the opportunity to meet those who have set up their own grassroots organisations, such as OOMK and Female Muslim Creatives, and artists running their own businesses, such as artist and designer Haidée Drew and photographer Jonny Bosworth.
“Art can lead to fashion, journalism, animation, and photography. I also learnt that recyclable materials are quite creative…” - Student feedback
The event also drew on the importance of STEAM subjects, with Robin Jones, Head of Division for Mechanical Engineering and Product Design at London South Bank University, discussing how the intersection of technology and visual design can lead to exciting new products. Material Driven demonstrated how designers are producing innovative materials, experimenting with material science and bio-design to bring new products to market, and architectural practices Delvendahl Martin Architects and Thomas and Spiers shared their portfolios and discussed the skills needed to be a successful architect.
“I feel I can now pursue a creative career with confidence.” - Student feedback
There was also a strong turn-out from colleges and universities advocating further and higher education creative pathways, including London College of Fashion, ELAM, New Vic, Ravensbourne University and London Screen Academy.
“All the feedback from students and staff has been so positive. It’s great to work with the staff at Sarah Bonnell and our partners Bow Arts to provide amazing opportunities and help students to seek out their path in life.” -Laura Davies – Head of Art and Design, Sarah Bonnell School
This event was a pilot for a new strand of work the Bow Arts Education team are developing to support schools to sign-post creative pathways to their students. The event demonstrated for us the huge appetite – from both parents and students – to better understand and have aspirations to work within the creative industries. As a team, we are reflecting on how the diversity of creative pathways are often hidden or difficult to navigate. We appreciate that these pathways can be nuanced and often invisible. Our work in this area aims to champion and make more visible the entry-points into the creative industries.
If you are interested in developing creative pathways for young people in your formal setting, please do not hesitate to get in touch via firstname.lastname@example.org or 020 8980 7774.