Acting – entry points
Most professional actors will have some form of professional training.
Drama UK is the UK accreditation body for courses in acting and related fields. A directory of accredited courses is available, including a list of accredited postgraduate programmes in acting. There are many benefits to further study on one of these courses, including the opportunity to perform, network and – on graduation – access automatic membership of Equity and Spotlight (the UK’s leading casting directory).
Advice on funding is available from the Drama UK website. It’s worth noting their advice on research options – including applying to trusts and foundations for funding, saving money from other work, and exploring scholarships or bursaries offered by the institutions. Some of the accredited courses are eligible for the DaDA awards which can provide funding for those aged 18-23. Those aged over 24 are often advised to explore other sources of funding, including the Advanced Learner Loan scheme. If you are an international student, be aware that many sources of funding include strict criteria around nationality or residency status.
Eventually, you may need an agent to represent you. To find an agent, it’s advisable to make a list of agencies operating in your region and research them to see if they are well equipped to support the kind of work you want to do. Use recommendations from other performers too, and then make a targeted approach to a well-chosen shortlist. Remember to include:
- Professional acting headshots (black and white and colour, theatrical and commercial).
- Your CV, tailored specifically to acting which includes an image of you, a list of acting credits, as well as information on your skills, accents, role playing ages, height and so on, plus your training or acting classes.
- Details of your Equity membership and Spotlight membership.
- Showreel (or ‘demo reel’), which is a short piece of video or film footage showcasing your work.
Visual Art & Design
As well as developing your work and techniques, it’s advisable to begin building your understanding of the industry. Work experience, work shadowing or voluntary work – at galleries, private collections, design collectives, design agencies or similar – can help furnish you with greater awareness and contacts. Proactively creating opportunities to show your work is advisable, and developing ways to raise awareness of your work online is important.
To gain work and commissions, you might want to see our resources for ‘Creative CVs’. To see more of what employers are looking for, check out ‘The Ideal Candidate’ – a collection of 28 interviews with organisations that hire designers. There is also an infographic on entry points and career trajectories for designers.
Formal training and qualifications are common amongst those who work professionally in the field, although individuals with lots of talent but no qualifications can also emerge. In fine art, there is an approximate correlation between higher prices and the artist’s qualifications. Investigate further study options using Prospects Postgraduate Study webpages.
The best way to get into creative writing is… get writing! Self-discipline is a key skill, and learning how to motivate yourself and produce work is vital. Keep working on your portfolio and consider writing and keeping your own blog. This is a good way to collate your writing and develop your skills and interests in a creative way. Ways to get published include being accepted for representation by a literary agent (the most common route), self-publishing online, or through contact directly with commissioning editors. Very few publishers accept unsolicited scripts.
The relatively recent rise of MA Creative Writing courses has delivered a number of publishing success stories. Often these writers’ ‘discovery’ arises from the end of year showcase (a website, printed document or physical event) which draws the attention of the publishing industry. Although the MA is certainly not a requirement for a career in writing, many successful graduates cite the showcase and the peer review throughout the course as the two key benefits; check for these carefully in assessing courses. If you’re not sure about the full MA, short courses are available from organisations such as the Arvon Foundation, which also has bursaries available.
Entry points for other creative areas
For many areas of the craft world it can prove challenging to make a substantial income, as the labour cost in learning and making each piece can outstrip the sale price of some media. However, 5.6 million pieces of craft were sold in England in the past year, representing a larger market than that for visual art. Those that do make a successful career in craft often also run workshops, negotiate arrangements for regular commissioned pieces or develop good networks with stockists and customers for their products. Craft ‘apprenticeships’ (formally or informally) are often used to pass on skills for a growing craft business.
Generally craft skills are learnt through specific short courses, or through tuition or shadowing from a professional who currently practises those skills. Further information on courses, apprenticeships, jobs and studio space is available from the Crafts Council.
For information on historic building conservation, consider the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings https://www.spab.org.uk/ and the National Heritage Training Group ttps://www.the-nhtg.org.uk/resources/heritage-directory/heritage-organisations/ Both organisations detail opportunities to develop your craft skills in an employment context and may be of particular interest to architects, archaeologists, history students and those interested in craft and conservation.
30,000 people are employed in the dance sector in the UK, although only 2,500 are performers. Most of these enter the sector following professional training, and performance roles require peak fitness. A dance career, like a sports career, is therefore time-constrained, and organisations like the DCD support dancers to transition to the many non-performance roles in the dance sector. These range from tuition and teaching to company management, arts management more generally, dance therapy and community work. These roles can also be accessed without a background in performance, although some (such as dance therapy) do require specialist training.
Council for Dance Education and Training provides accreditation for dance training, and lots of information on course providers. Funding can come through the government Dance and Drama awards for some courses, as well as institution bursaries.
The fashion industry comprises a range of roles across a number of different fields, including design, manufacturing, marketing and promotion, and retail. For instance, designers and sketching assistants work within design. The manufacturing field includes roles such as seamstress, tailor, and textile worker. The marketing and promotion field includes photographers, models, and stylists, as well as those working within PR and advertising. The retail sales field includes the roles of buyer, merchandise planner, salesperson, and retail manager. You might also be interested in fashion journalism. Look at the Art and Design Employability blog for ideas. You may also be interested in Oxford Fashion Week, which hosts a series of speaker events, as well as a ‘Bloggers Preview party’.