Common Wealth Theatre and National Theatre Wales announced to host a Weston Jerwood Creative Bursaries Fellow

The 12-month role of Associate Director at Common Wealth and National Theatre Wales is open for applications from Tuesday 20 October 2020

The programme is targeted at applicants from low socio-economic groups, who are under-represented in the arts and cultural sector

Common Wealth and National Theatre Wales (NTW) are to host a Weston Jerwood Creative Bursaries Fellow as part of a programme to get more people from low socio-economic backgrounds into cultural careers. Across the UK there will be 50 exciting opportunities to develop a career in the arts, with each role playing an important part in the host organisation. Common Wealth and NTW are welcoming applications for the role of Associate Director, designed for someone who is in the early stages of their career.

Even before the pandemic wreaked havoc on career prospects in the arts, those from middle-class backgrounds were 2.5 times more likely to end up in creative occupations than their working-class peers. This is a situation which has not improved since records began in 2014. Social mobility is a greater issue in the cultural sector and wider creative industries than across the economy as a whole. The wider creative industries have created over 300,000 jobs over the past five years, yet the number of creative workers from working-class backgrounds has increased by just 33,000. Just as with the impact of the 2008 financial crisis, it is expected that those who are already finding it difficult to make their way in the arts will be the worst hit by the impact of covid-19.

The Weston Jerwood Creative Bursaries aim to redress the balance by funding 50 paid, year-long artistic and creative Fellowships as well as an organisational development programme run by people make it work to embed inclusive practices for the host organisation, with three members of the host team taking part, including a board member and a senior executive.

This is the fourth edition of the programme, which has been running for over 10 years and has 125 alumni to date, many of whom have forged successful careers. This edition of WJCB is the largest yet, with support from Arts Council England’s Transforming Leadership Programme, Garfield Weston Foundation, Art Fund, Arts Council of Wales, Creative Scotland, and PRS Foundation.

Lilli Geissendorfer, director of Jerwood Arts, comments, “I’m delighted that Common Wealth and National Theatre Wales has been selected to host a Weston Jerwood Creative Bursaries Fellow. Common Wealth and National Theatre Wales applied to be part of the programme before COVID-19 had been identified, so it is heartening that making their organisation more diverse and inclusive is still high on their agenda despite the additional challenges they are facing. It speaks to the resilience I have been inspired by from all corners of the arts and cultural sector in recent months to find the silver linings in the bleakest of times and commit to creating a stronger sector that everyone will benefit from.”

Working closely with the directors and lead artists of productions, the Associate Director role will support the creation, development and delivery of theatre shows staged in non-theatre buildings. It aims to attract someone who can initiate and develop their own creative project with support from Common Wealth and NTW, as well as develop experiences and skills in directing, producing and artistic leadership.

Rhiannon White, Artistic Director of Common Wealth said “It is clear that working class people are getting very few jobs in the arts, with COVID this feels amplified and the future more uncertain than ever. Common Wealth and National Theatre Wales are thrilled to offer this role at this important time. We are calling on those with lived experience of being from a lower-socioeconomic background to join us in a year-long paid position as Associate Director. This incredible opportunity will be shared between both companies, and will involve working alongside artists on some of Wales’ exciting new productions. Common Wealth and National Theatre Wales are passionate about the future of theatre, of who gets to make it and who its made for. We can’t wait to meet our new Associate Director, and build a future theatre that is more inclusive and representative of the communities we work with.”

The Weston Jerwood Creative Bursaries 2020-2022 programme is designed and produced by Jerwood Arts. It is funded and supported by Arts Council England’s Transforming Leadership Fund, Garfield Weston Foundation, Art Fund, Arts Council of Wales, The National Lottery through Creative Scotland, British Council, Jerwood Arts and PRS Foundation.

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