Report Break-Out School’s Out

The gap between school and working field: Two former art students share their experiences about graduating from art school and swimming into the field. What do fresh masters in the arts need in order to jump into the pool with more leeway, and how can schools and the sector work together to support them in this? An open discussion in search of concrete actions.

5 MINUTES ARTHUR DE COCK I studied at the Royal Conservatoire, Woord, graduated two years ago. It’s quite difficult to get started. I’m just frustrated, I want to complaint. I knew nothing about the structures in the field, I don’t have a network. I needed a year to find to find out that I didn’t know anything. Starting means that someone takes you by the hand. You mail, no one answers. It takes energy. There’s a big gap between what we learn in school, and becoming a professional artist. I started a Facebook-page, and we had many reactions.

5 MINUTES LAURA ORIOL I studied in KASK. I have the same concerns. How to bridge this gap? How to sustain ourselves financially? There’s a lot of knowledge that is not shared by the school. And that is not shared between ‘newcomers’ in the field. There’s a kind of taboo. Roger, Joan and I are co-writing in the Almanac about this. We have a utopian proposal: after each graduation show there’s a warm welcome party by the working field, so you can start after holidays.

Present: - Johannes Wirix: graduted in 2020, Drama Conservatoire, actor and radio host. School didn’t say what would happen after school, except in the first year: “There’s no future for you”. - Perry Brienen, master LUCA Leuven, chose for the Educational Master for more work security: more chance as a teacher than as an artist - Mary Szydlowska: master PARTS, graduated in full pandemic. Would like to hear magic tricks. - Laura Oriol: graduated in Autonomous Design, KASK (performance / Arts in Society Masters), shock of not having information of the school, and not feeling a welcome atmosphere by the field. - Judith Vindevogel: founder of Walpurgis, “It feels like I never finished school” (she quit Studio Herman Teirlinck and went her way, “every project is a learning”) - Alexandra Fraser, Sint-Lucas Antwerp, visual arts, had already some years of practice. - Roger Fähndrich: graduated in Autonomous Design KASK and had a masterclass about this gap. “In Swiss it was more traumatic after my bachelor, now I don’t want to have it repeated.” - Yasmine, master Sint-Lucas Visual Arts: “I want to avoid the gap, the blackhole, by listening to other people.” - Veroline Vanderbeek: graduated with Johannes in Royal Conservatoire Antwerp (acting). Didn’t experience a gap by making her own master theatre piece. “But that was a struggle in itself, everything was new”. What’s next, maybe the gap will follow now? - Arthur De Cock: experienced the gap for two years, “now I’m teaching, but is that really what I wanted to do?” - Sep: jazz dancer, festival organiser, activist and host - Anne-Charlotte Bisoux: 10 years gratuated, still problems with payments

Laura and Roger talk about their masterclass : we desired a kind of artist syndicate. We listed what was lacking in the school: 1) How to prize you work, what kind of alternative economic models do exist? 2) ecology: reflecting on solidarity systems that are present (or not) in the art field, 3) politics: we don’t learn to be critical of the system (we are learnt to accept ‘this is how it is’). An important part of the gap is a psychological question, the confrontation with neoliberalism: there’s very little money for meaning making, while there are so many bullshit jobs. Why is it so undervalued?

WHAT’S THE GAP EXACTLY? - We list it up - the difference between becoming an artist and sustaining and presenting your work. - workspaces are missing (affordable, accessible) - success ? - peer support missing - feedback missing - How to link quality work and payment, or financing of the work done. The skill to create work is different from making an income. - The education is often very conceptual, lacks some craftemensship creation which could be used in practise reality. Feels like a gap for new artists. - School creates a community (trough practise space, projects,… ), so after school a void happens. After we have very few options to hold a shared space, group sharing environment - centralised knowledge / help base is missing (where to ask for help) - mentoring is an important part of the education, yet after school there is no continuation - connections are so important, but its not been explicitly encouraged to build that, or even that you need to have those to build a future as an artist -
- how to get paid? Statutes, fair payments,
- image and other rights. the use and abuse of work or even portret right. We dont learn how to deal with that. - transmition of knowledge on how to make a plan for a project, business plan creation, financiial planning. - decent guiding on how to write a funding dossier - there is no sufficent mirroring of the workfield and the education. For example not having 9-5, or choosing a director or other crew, .... - there is a weird ‘concurentie’ in between the schools, like a label. - The schools really drops out after the end of your education. They would only share sucesstroie,s but not support the less succesfull stories - There is no attention for psychological care. - there is a big gap in between the audiance and the artists

It looks like this information offers a great opportunity to write an open lettre.

A school could organise a sort of an aftercare. Like get togethers on regular bases of formal students and others from the field. At the same time we are in a state of hight indivuality, while we need being together, and a community.

Question? Do we need to change the system, or the ways to get in the system? In the very long it seems worthy to challenge the system. Another example would be to build back the link between the audiance and the artist (in conrast with the gatekeepers, Cultural centres could be) Can we find a short chain or reciprocal system. For example a person gets a mentor and then the students provides activism for the field, codependent cycles.

Cant we get easier acces to the artist statute, so at least we can buy the time so we can focus on ceating and quality work, not surviving. –> sounds like Ownership economy