April 2, 2006

Nontraditional Career Options in the Arts

Posted in Career Options, Job Search tagged , , , , , , at 8:22 am by Yvonne LaRose

April is a busy month for girls and women. It was recently (historically speaking) designated Women’s History Month. For approximately 10 of the past 13 years, it was the month that Take Our Daughters to Work Day was celebrated across the United States.

The latter originally began in order to make girls aware of the fact that they do have a place in the workplace other than the traditional support staff roles to which women had been restricted. The fourth Thursday of April was set aside by the Ms. Foundation as the date girls could shadow someone in business for a day, to learn more about the type of work that person does, what the real day-to-day activities are, how to act in a business-like manner, prepare for meetings, be involved in business decision making.

As time passed, the cry of equal opportunity rose in objection to just girls having one day away from traditional school in order to learn about career options. So in 2002, the first Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day evolved. And as the years leading up to that inclusion passed, nontraditional careers began being examined as possible career paths.

Last month I discovered an Arts calendar that shows the various displays and special events in Southern California. As I examined the entries, the thought occurred to me that the special events and dates also represented ideas for career options in the Arts. So I tore out the pages for March and April to share some career options in the Arts with you based on that calendar.

March 1 and 2: Admission to the Craft and Folk Art Museum is free on he first Wednesday of each month. For those who enjoy crafts, quiting, and folk arts, a career can be made in using and preserving these traditions. Consider handmade furniture for boys or girls, pottery making, glass or surface decorating as occupations that create art but also have functional bases.

The Hammer Museum has free admission on the first Thursday of each month and features contemporary art. Maybe because it’s based on UCLA’s campus is why this museum features things that can appeal to a person with diverse interests and drives where Art is the underpinning. It’s displays range from classic to cutting edge, historical to contemporary in addition to master works. Those who enjoy history may be able to develop some ideas on how to integrate their second love of art into a career by viewing this. Art gallery sales and appraisals may be options that require skill in public speaking, negotiation, persuasion, math. Has anyone considered a writing career as an art critic or the person who writes the description of the event coming to a particular venue?

What about teaching some form of art to others? Teaching is more than just talking and demonstrating. Lesson plans need to be written for each day of class. And then there’s evaluation of learning and class papers.

March 4 and 5: Orange County Museum of Art features Landscape Confetti as part of its contemporary art exhibits. But that brings up yet more career options. Landscaping architects determine what shape the yard will take and what maneuverings will help create it. The type of medium to be used is also part of this decision making – all the way from the type of earth to the height of the tree and everything in between.

Has anyone ever picked up a gardening or landscape picture book, or a gardener’s encyclopedia? Someone had to know and understand plants in order to write about them. Someone needed technical writing skills in order to explain how to tend and care for the plants and describe them adequately enough that we consumers will understand the unique qualities of each plant.

Just because one is in writing and publishing doesn’t necessarily mean they are the one who scribes the words. Publishing has multiple branches for career paths. Still in editorial are occupations such as copywriters, proofreaders, fact checkers – the people in the library who go through the files and double check information to make absolutely certain it’s true and accurate.

There are also the photographic editors and photographers. Someone needs to take the pictures or choose the images used in the publication. The people who handle cover art for books need to have a sense of what’s happening in the story or written piece so that the artwork blends into the work and is in consonance with the context. We still haven’t gotten to the typesetting and printing departments, nor legal with its concerns about copyright and contracts.

Oh, that’s right. Back to the calendar of events for the Month of March!

The Mingei International Museum is in San Diego and features folk art and paintings from around the world. Just because you’re a local of your city or state doesn’t mean you’ll never in your life have any dealings with any other part of the world. As we keep talking about diversity and inclusion, it would be good to have someone become versed in world relations through artistic expression. The more one understands the traditions, the easier comes appreciation and acceptance.

March 19 – 25: Storytelling is a form of oral history. At museums, the guides (there’s another entry-level career option) need to be able to relate the story of what’s being displayed. Those guides learn their script from the endeavors of the person who wrote out the display description, complete with history of the period, a few traditions tossed in for interest, and some cultural input to lend appreciation of what’s there.

The Museum of Tolerance, renown for its Holocaust display, features “Once Upon a World” story hour, the story of Cesar Chavez. One important aspect of storytelling is appreciating the best way to convey the information so that it is memorable. The need for accuracy is paramount. Thus, a solid knowledge of history goes with this career. If pictures will help make the recitation more memorable, it’s important to have a knowledge of where to obtain the images. Integrating actual photos and images or clip art is another determination that needs to be made with some degree of enlightenment. And still another factor important to the presentation is knowing whether a PowerPoint, slide, or tactile instrument (the actual photograph) presentation would be proper. What’s the person who does this called? Choreograhper?

Both the Long Beach Museum of Art and The Museum of Contemporary Art (Los Angeles), are featured sites during this week of Fine Arts Appreciation. The Long Beach is noted for having over 5,000 paintings, sculptures, and drawings. All that art that needs to be organized, catalogued, inventoried, and displayed in such a manner that the appreciation of the art will be completely savored rather than merely throwing non-uniform pieces willy nilly because there was space for it on a shelf. So there’s a need for display artists, people with a sense of history, color, balance, continuity. Isn’t the curator the one in charge of the entire collection? There must be titles for the other players in creating a cohesive presentation.

The San Diego counterpart of the Museum of Contemporary Art focuses on art from 1950 to the present. Biographers are needed in order to write notations about the artists and convey to the public the various factors that influenced the artist. Now here’s a case of integrating an interest in writing with history and genealogy.

Closing out the week is The Getty Center‘s Family Festival, a presentation of crafts, performances, and “fun surprises.” The Getty is known for its research, conservation, and grants. Here, again, are many careers associated with The Arts. Those interested in environmental issues, history, preservationists, those who love learning more about things (researchers), and contracts and grants administrators would be wise to look into places similar to The Getty for types of entry-level opportunities available.

March 26 – 31: In addition to notes about the National Gallery of Art‘s KidZone (which is an online site for game playing and making computer art) two museums are featured. But let’s consider the KidZone before wrapping up. One of the burgeoning industries at this time is computer games. Types of workers are computer programmers, simulators, equipment handlers, physical therapists, artists, cartoonists, graphic artists, quality assurance workers, quality controllers, testers. Who said art and computers don’t go together? Additionally, for each game produced, there’s a story that goes with it and someone who’s worked out and written up the story map and strategy. There’s been someone to evaluate the levels of difficulty and appropriateness for certain ages.

Hmm. This calendar isn’t specific. I wonder if they meant that KidZone or this one or this one.

The two featured museums are Santa Barbara Museum of Art which is featuring huge sculptures of everyday objects by Claes Oldenburg. Okay, someone needs to be able to describe this.

One of the more fascinating entries on this page of the calendar is Museum of Jurassic Technology. Here there’s an integration of art, Jurassic history, knoweldge of how to depict things in a contextual manner. If you’re creating the display labels, there’s still a need for good writing skills. In addition to the live venue, there’s also the Radio Documentary by Sound Portraits, which is writer Lawrence Weschler’s profile of this singular institution, home to spore-inhaling ants and bats that can fly through walls. So here, we have a need for some talent in broadcast and audio arts such as sound mixing, controlling a sound board, dubbing, editing, as well as timing.

Believe it or not, this page of the calendar does end. There are references to two online resources for additional information and resources. Ah-ha! Writing career coupled with web content writing, web page creating, HTML coding. Anyway, consider the entries for LAartsEd, the arts education programs offered in Los Angeles County. Also noted for gaining more art appreciation is discovering Los Angeles through its Walking Tours presented on the Los Angeles County Cultural Calendar. Oh yes, yet another occupation – scheduler, not to mention calendar keeper.

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