I am in my third year at the University of Exeter, studying Art History & Visual Culture and History. I have long been interested in pursuing a career in the Arts & Heritage industry and my time at university has strengthened this ambition. It has enabled me to gain a greater understanding of the sector as well as the chance to develop my skills through work experience.
In my first year I undertook the University’s ‘Professional Pathways to Arts, Heritage and Culture’ (PATCH) program. This training course was delivered by industry professionals and included speakers from various cultural organisations such as Arts Council England and the National Trust. This program enhanced my understanding of fundraising, audience evaluation and project management. This year I signed up for the University’s career mentor scheme with Nicola Nuttall (Heritage Theme Lead) as my mentor. This was a valuable opportunity to have one-to-one careers advice from an experienced professional. I gained a greater insight into working in the Heritage industry as well as access to networking opportunities.
In October 2020 I was given the opportunity to attend a virtual conference by the South West Federation of Museums & Art Galleries. I was given free tickets to the event in exchange for participating in a Twitter takeover and undertaking social media activities on behalf of the organisation. The theme of this year’s conference was ‘Interpreting, Curating and Combatting the Climate Emergency’. The conference involved fascinating sessions about how the Heritage sector can contribute to increasing public awareness about climate change. It was led by a range of workshop leaders from across the South West and beyond.
During my time at university, I have made use of the museums and arts organisations in Exeter. I am especially interested in cultural outreach and have sought opportunities to gain knowledge in this area. I began volunteering at the Bill Douglas Cinema Museum in 2019 and my role was initially focused on cataloguing historic film stills. I am now building on an audience development report by exploring ways of expanding the Museum’s community engagement initiatives. I am also a member of the Royal Albert Memorial Museum’s Youth Panel. This role is based on shaping the Museum’s exhibitions and events programme in order to maximise the engagement of younger audiences. It has involved assisting with publicity, exhibition planning and the organisation of a ‘RAMM Late’ evening event.
In the spring lockdown period, I took part in RAMM’s social media campaign to keep audiences interested in the Museum by creating video content. At this time, I was also employed by Mayes Creative in an internship organised through the University. This involved producing creative engagement opportunities in partnership with Heritage organisations in Cornwall. The focus was on COVID-19 response projects designed to offer a sense of connection to those facing additional isolation due to age.
Overall, my experiences with Heritage in Exeter has enabled me to clarify my future career aspirations as well as add depth to my degree studies. I have enjoyed the opportunities I have had whilst at university and hope that they will have enhanced my employment prospects for the future.