Accessibility Tools

In a simultaneously disconnected and connected age, learning how to build a network as a fine arts student can be intimidating.

ArtsForce’s 11th Annual Networking event wanted to tackle this challenge by helping students understand what steps they could take now to create early career success. From digital to traditional networking, it all comes down to making a genuine connection. Having connections to other artists, organizations, and more is essential to finding opportunities throughout your arts career. To help students practice their networking skills, the event featured a panel, guided networking, and a chance to connect with local artists, artist organizations, and employers.

The event began with a panel of Fine Arts Ambassadors, including digital artist & photographer Nick Pedersen, film editor Beth Kearsley, and theatre educator & arts programmer Jordan Nelson –– all alumni of the University of Utah College of Fine Arts. As graduates, their insights were particularly relevant to students beginning in their careers. They reflected on their careers, emphasizing, amongst other things, the importance of being able to pitch yourself and your work at any time, as well as being able to communicate and set realistic expectations when working with clients and collaborators.

Kristen Tang reflected on their advice, finding that you should “always be asking questions and letting them [coworkers] know what you are interested in even if it isn't technically a part of your job.” Panelists also discussed the value of willingness, openness, and pursuit of opportunities in building your career. ArtsForce intern and panel co-moderator, Sarah Benedict, said that she learned “there are multiple paths to success. Even if you don't immediately get the career you were envisioning, it doesn't mean you won't eventually.”

After the panel and a lunch, Associate Dean Liz Leckie and ArtsForce intern Mors Smith led both students and professionals in a guided networking workshop. The guided networking served as a way to help attendees break the ice and start building connections. Mors Smith said, “It really did help students socialize with each other and meet new people…I think it is scarier to talk to arts professionals than your peers, so it broke up those fears in an effective way.”

In the final round of the guided networking, professionals returned to their tables and students were asked to pair up to meet the professionals together, Mors continued, “It was also good for exploring other areas of the arts, because the odds are they talked to someone outside of their area. So, there was more collaboration.”

Following guided networking, students got the chance to connect with arts professionals and organizations. Attendees included Pioneer Theatre Company,  UMFA, the BLOCKS SLC, and more. Kristen Tang said, “I thought that approaching people and getting comfortable asking them why, what they do and how they got there was really valuable. I learned a lot about aspects of art I wasn't familiar with like installation artists, muralists, and arts educators.” Students got the chance to make direct connections and practice the networking advice they had gotten from the panel and guided networking.

ArtsForce would like to thank all of the participants at the event and invite students to join our canvas page to hear about future events and opportunities.

Key Takeaways:

  • Be able to clearly communicate your abilities and set realistic expectations
  • Understand business and professional skills to support your artistic practice
  • Seek out opportunities to show your work both online and in person
  • Be able to show a condensed version of your work regardless of platform and be able to easily pitch your skills and work

Ava Crane

Author Ava Crane is a Film and Media Arts student with minors in Spanish and Arts Technology and an Emerging Leaders Intern with ArtsForce.

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