creativeopportunityprogramme | ROSE & ELIZABETH
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We caught up with Rose, Visitor Services Supervisor at the Whitechapel Gallery and Elizabeth Baiden, one of last year’s cohort, about their experience on the programme and the opportunities it opened up for them.

Tell us a little about Whitechapel Gallery

ROSE: The Whitechapel Gallery was founded in 1901 to bring great art to the people of east London. The Gallery’s history is a history of firsts, being the first to exhibit work by David Hockney, Picasso’s Guernica, Jackson Pollock, Gilbert & George and Richard Long, to name a few.

We have an ever changing programme of exhibitions, a host of public events ranging from symposiums, family days, cinema screenings and talks and lectures. Our education department programme workshops and events for local community groups, and we are frequently visited by school, college and university groups.

We are proud to play a unique role in the capital’s cultural landscape and contributing to the continued growth of east London as a leading contemporary art quarter.

Liz, tell us a little about yourself

LIZ: My name is Liz; I am 20 years old and currently living in Waltham Forest East London. My ambition is to connect art with others. A lot of people dismiss the arts in their everyday lives due to lack of exposure, knowledge or time. I want to encourage them to become more involved through my own work and through creative spaces.

Why did you apply for/get involved with last year’s programme?

LIZ: I applied for CCOW after I had finished my Foundation Diploma in Art and Design as I was on the fence about whether I should go to University. I knew there were other options for me out there; however I didn’t know what they were and where to start. The only thing I was certain of was, was that I wanted to work in the Creative Arts Sector.

ROSE: As a leading gallery in east London we felt we could offer opportunities and careers advice to the young people attending the week. We have provided work placements in the Visitor Services team for quite some time. Some of the placements have led to employment with us or have equipped people with useful skills to lead on in to other employment. In the past we have also run HLF Traineeships, internships and our respected MA programme in Curatorial studies. We are committed to offering opportunities to young people looking to gain experience in the arts and cultural sector, and being part of the Creative Opportunity Programme was a great way to continue our involvement in this area.

What was Whitechapel Gallery’s involvement in last year’s programme? 

ROSE: We were fortunate to host a day here at the gallery. The day consisted of practical work advice from other east London organisations, and then in the afternoon two members of our Education team ran a practical workshop in understanding the various roles within the gallery. We also informed the group about the various opportunities we have available, such as the work placement and other entry levels roles for anyone looking to start a career in the arts.

Liz, what did you do on last week’s programme?

LIZ: It is difficult to dwindle down what I did on the CCOW – a huge quantity of it covered gaining experience and employment within the creative arts sector. Throughout the week I met experienced professionals who were able to give me a first-hand perspective on the creative industry. I learnt that there is a vast range of opportunities within the creative sector from the types of jobs roles there are, to the experiences you can gain, even without a qualification. During the week I was also given the opportunity to work on myself and my entrance into the industry. This was through practical activities that; helped me understand the importance of networking, improved my writing skills for my CV and cover letter, trained me for interviews and showed me how to transfer my practical skills into employable skills. I also had plenty of opportunities to ask questions and have one to one personal time with a member of the CCOW.

What was your highlight on CCOW 2016?

LIZ: The highlight of CCOW was meeting people who were in similar situations to me and older established professionals that truly wanted to help me in my progression. It brings extreme comfort to be surrounded by people that understand you; opportunities such as CCOW are important for this reason. After you finish education you may find that there is a lack of support and feel quite lost, questioning what to do next. Creative Opportunity Programme brought to light the many prospects there are for me to continue in my career progression.

What did you go on to do after the week?

LIZ: After the week I went on to apply for a lot of jobs and went on a lot of interviews that although were unsuccessful, gave me material on myself to improve on. I then landed the work placement as Visitor Services Assistant at the Whitechapel Gallery which led me to now work at the gallery within this role.

What are you doing at Whitechapel Gallery?

LIZ: I work as a Visitors Service Assistant at the Whitechapel Gallery. Whilst there, I feel as though I am completing part of my ambition to connect art with others and I am especially reminded during my chances to speak on shows and exhibitions with the members of the public.

How did you go onto support members of the CCOW 2016?

ROSE: At the time, we were offering a 6-8 work placement in our Visitor Services team. After the week had ended, we were approached by Elizabeth Baiden, who joined us on placement for 8 weeks, learning the skills required of the role of a Visitor Services Assistant. Liz demonstrated such an aptitude for the role that we were delighted to offer her a contract as a Visitor Services Assistant, Liz continues to work for us today. During Liz’s time with us, I was approached to provide a reference for Liz for a fantastic part time role with Hackney Pirates, as Trading Supervisor. Liz was hired by Hackney Pirates and now divides her time between working there and working with us in the Visitor Services team.

How have you been supporting Elizabeth?

ROSE: We have been supporting Liz by ensuring she is allocated shifts based around her other work commitments with Hackney Pirates. Liz’s casual contract with us enables her to choose shifts as and when they work for her, as she is most often at Hackney Pirates during the working week. We also offer support by acting as referees for other roles Liz might be interested in applying for, for instance her role with Hackney Pirates. We ensure all of the team continue to be trained in all Visitor Services procedures, furthering their skillset and knowledge in the role. We are also there to act as mentors and offer careers advice to Liz and the other members of the Visitor Services team.




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