Faculty of Performance, Visual Arts and Communication

Centre for Critical Studies in Museums, Galleries and Heritage

MA Art Gallery and Museum Studies case study: on placement with East Street Arts

May 27th, 2016

Hayley Reid at the Art Hostel in Leeds

Students studying on the MA Art Gallery and Museum Studies course at the University of Leeds take on a placement as part of their degree programme. MA student, Hayley Reid, has recently completed her placement with Leeds-based East Street Arts.

In this case study, we look at the importance of work experience in arts organisations for MA students, from the perspectives of both student and placement provider.

Nic Greenan, External Relations Director, explains the role of East Street Arts in Leeds and the benefits of taking on placement students from the MA programme:

What is East Street Arts?

“East Street Arts is a pioneering national arts organisation with international reach. Established in 1993 in Leeds, it supports artists, collectives and emerging arts organisations. This is facilitated through a diverse programme of public activities, working with and in communities, professional support and learning sessions, studio and facility developments and a Temporary Space Programme. Our mission is to focus on the development of artists through our events programme, membership activities, professional development and studio/facility provision.”

How long has East Street Arts been taking placement students?

“We have taken on placements for the past 10 years and many of these have turned into longer relationships an some have involved into paid opportunities.”

What is the East Street Arts perspective on hosting placement students?

“We have benefited greatly from hosting placements and seen the impact it has had on the students’ learning but also our understanding of the changing needs of students looking for experience in the working world.”

What are the skills you look for in recent graduates?

“Initiative and a critical mind are the two main skills we identified that when we were hosting students. These two characteristics were vital in being able to enable the student to make decisions, work responsively but yet with a strategic overview and not put a strain on the capacity of the organization.”

What are the skills new graduates are going to need to make a career in arts administration or curation?

“Graduates need a clearer idea of the world they are going to be operating in and networking within the sector as early as possible is key. Well respected and successful arts administrators have strong networks and key relationships which makes them well equipped, knowledgeable which enables them to action activity promptly.”

Student perspective from Hayley Reid, MA Art Gallery and Museum Studies 2016:

“During my time with East Street Arts, I was introduced, from the beginning, to their exciting large-scale project: Art Hostel. Using the Art Hostel as a base I was able to see and often be a part of the development of the building and the art-filled rooms inside. I shadowed Nicola Greenan, a director of East Street Arts, and attended various meetings with funding bodies, Leeds City Council and cultural organisations in Leeds to get a taste of the type of varied work that a charitable arts organisation is involved with.

“An important aspect of the placement was to develop a project that I could work on independently and which would benefit the Art Hostel and East Street Art’s work. Together with Nicola, I decided to focus on a research project around the cultural regeneration of the historic street, Kirkgate, where the hostel is situated. This project gave me an important insight into the process of long-term projects from initial research, applying for funding, to finally seeing the realisation of the hard work.”

Further information about the MA Art Gallery and Museum Studies at the University of Leeds can be found here.

Image: Hayley Reid inside the Art Hostel

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