Creative Placements

Proboscis’ Creative Placement programme is a paid work-based training programme which we have set up to enable young people who wouldn’t otherwise have the opportunity to work in the creative sector to experience and learn about creative work and gain a foothold. We are specifically targeting young unemployed people from diverse backgrounds who may not have gone through higher education. This is intended as a counterpoint to the pervasive culture of unpaid internships and entry to the arts through patronage, personal and family connections. Arts Council England’s report on Regular Funded Organisations (published February 2011) describes a 30% increase in ‘voluntary’ staff in 2009-10. Meanwhile the Low Pay Commission reported in March 2010 on the “systematic abuse of interns, with a growing number of people undertaking ‘work’ but excluded from the minimum wage”. In April 2011 the Low Pay Commission further reported that they “recommend that the Government raises awareness of minimum wage rules relating to internships and other forms of work experience placements and ensures that the rules are effectively enforced”.

Not just workers or trainees but citizens
Our approach is to look at the whole person – recruiting people who we feel can both learn from us and contribute to the organisation and the projects they will be working on. Learning by doing is a crucial part of this, not training to fit particular roles, but teaching the placements to be adaptable, to understand how they can learn and acquire new skills not just through formal education, but through their relationships with other people.

Our aim is to help these young people discover themselves as active citizens who have roles and responsibilities to others, and that the way they work and play is intrinsic to their participation in society and culture as mature adults. Our placements learn more than vocational skills – they participate in a creative community which offers them spaces and opportunities for discussion, argument, critique and reflection. The projects they contribute to introduce them to multiple perspectives, contexts and understandings. We aim to inspire them to want to achieve to their best potential, to engage in rich dialogues with others, to learn how to work collaboratively and to be able to create the possibility for collaborations to arise : to be critically and creatively responsive to the contexts and situations they find themselves in.

A civilised society is one in which the population is responsive, and has the resources and ability to critically examine and engage.
…Innovation depends on people who think, challenge, reflect, create and improvise. An educated and experimental population has the capacity for responsiveness.
…Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences provide the (public) spaces, the practices of openness and discussion, the time needed and the institutions in which citizens and their projects can unfold and develop.
…The value created … is carried by and in persons. As expertise, as confidence, as understanding and orientation to issues, problems, concerns and opportunities, as tools and abilities.

Enabling Innovation: creative investment in arts and humanities research
James Leach & Lee Wilson (paper for AHRC/Nesta, 2009)

What we’ve achieved
In 2010-11 we have hosted seven young unemployed people from diverse backgrounds on 6 month placements in partnership with Islington Council and New Deal of the Mind, funded through the government’s Future Jobs Fund.

2010-11 Cohort : Moin Ahmed, Shalene Barnett, Karine Dorset, Radhika Patel, Hazem Tagiuri, & Mandy Tang. Read their placement reports here.

Proboscis has been a brilliant partner for New Deal of the Mind. The stimulating six-month placements it provided have given a group of a young people just the kickstart they needed in their careers. Proboscis is the living proof that the creative sector can help put Britain back to work.

Martin Bright, CEO, New Deal of the Mind


We have found Proboscis to be an enthusiastic participant in Islington’s FJF programme who contributed proactively to the overall success of the scheme. The 3 placements provided by them have helped the young people develop their skills further, broadened their horizons and enhanced their chances of progression within the world of work. We are pleased with Proboscis’ involvement in this initiative and looking forward to continuing to work in partnership.

Albena Karameros, Team Manager,
Regeneration & Community Partnerships, Islington Council

Where Next?
With the cancellation of the Future Jobs Fund we are now seeking sponsors for a new programme of 12 month placements. Please contact us to discuss sponsorship opportunities.

Begun 2010 | Ongoing

Partners : Islington Council, New Deal of the Mind

Funders : HM Government (DWP – Future Jobs Fund)