In the era of the gig economy, one of the core skills all artists and arts workers need to master is how to be employable for life
While the rest of the world is waking up to the pros and cons of the “gig-economy”, characterised by short-term contracts and casual employment, the creative sector shrugs its shoulders and asks, 'Hasn’t it always been that way?'
Well, yes and no – David Throsby’s latest survey for the Australia Council on professional artists’ earnings and work practices, noted that the forces of globalisation and casualisation of employment have also been felt in the arts, with an increasing number of artists reporting moving to a portfolio career.
This is where, instead of being employed by an institution in a linear trajectory of development, a professional artist must navigate a range of contracts, development opportunities and employment to continue their creative practice.
Unfortunately, in the arts as in other sectors, being employable is sometimes equated with being “exploitable”, where you get trapped in a situation that neither supports or values us; instead it keeps us stuck in a situation out of someone playing on our passions and our fears.
While the employers might own the jobs, no-one is going to be responsible for our career but ourselves.
Therefore, one of the core skills we need to learn as an emerging or early career artist or creative worker is not just how to get that one specific job, but how to be employable for life, that is:
- Develop your own personal brand – what you want to be known for as a person as well as an artist.
- Understand your value in different job "markets” that have need of your skills and experience.
- Manage your time and resources across commitments, including being responsible for your own self-care.
Some people are naturals at pulling all this together – and we wish them well.
The rest of us can develop our capacity to becoming more employable and valuable in this new world by focusing on the following: