supporting artists at a critical time

One of the most important reasons for providing professional development to emerging Artists lies in the significance of timing. By focusing on the period of the transition from student to Artist, following Art School or University, it ensures vital help and support is available at a vulnerable time. It is during these first few years that an inexperienced Artist discovers the nature of the challenges involved in sustaining their creative practice and what skills are required to address them. The importance of preparing for the practical realities of professional life is essential and can, when overlooked, put at risk the immense effort and investment made, resulting in highly gifted and creative people unable to realize their potential to fully contribute to the wider community and a society much in need of creative experience and cultural leadership.

This is also a time when the disruptive impact of digital technology has brought about many changes including significant new opportunities for Artists to communicate, collaborate and interact directly with the public, increasing engagement and participation alongside the means to sell their work into a wider market than hitherto. Arts audiences are becoming more diverse and receptive to contemporary ideas while the boundaries of what is considered art are significantly broadening. This introduces new routes to market with less reliance on galleries and dealers. This ushers in an era where a greater autonomy of means enables a more self-reliant Artist professionally skilled and creatively motivated and without being commercial, to take advantage of the increasing role of creativity in public life including eschewing past roles and expectations such as `romantic dependent` which appear inappropriate in the 21st Century.

The opportunities are now there for Artists to take their place in the market place as an equal among equals. The professional development with practical and mentoring support envisaged by following leading corporate Art Awards initiatives offered by Clyde & Co, Aon and Travers Smith, are designed to meet these needs and aspirations at a time of critical transition for emerging Artists beginning their careers following Art School and University.

At this time, when survival is the priority, the ability to sustain a creative practice with a measure of creative entrepreneurship is a prerequisite of success.

Ian Chance, Mentor Director MA Creative Entrepreneurship University of East Anglia


There is much expectation, confusion and consequential exploitation during the first months and years of graduation. For the emerging artist being involved in a scheme that safely springboards them into the professional world during the transitional phase is a welcomed and valued opportunity for them and the UAL. We want our students to succeed. This project genuinely helps them towards establishment of their identity as artists. We are thrilled to be part of this project.

Dr Lois Rowe, Programme Director, Wimbledon College of Arts

This project is a fantastic initiative – seeing young talent supported in such a positive way, and with such commitment from staff.

Sophie Hayles, Curator, Whitechapel Gallery

Being a part of this project boosted my confidence at a crucial point in my career. It helped secure my first small solo show in London as well as a residency in Germany. The financial support has been imperative for the continued development of my practice and ideas.

Abi Freckleton, on participating in the Clyde & Co Art Awards, 2013

This support has spurred me on after graduating. It has provided me with the spring board I needed to pursue my own passion without hesitation or querying what I am doing and why am I doing it. In essence I have been supported at the right time and in the right way.

Alexander Devereux, on participating in the Clyde & Co Art Awards, 2014

Having access to professional opportunities and advice is crucial to connect graduate artists with the real world.

Badr Ali, 2015 participant, graduate of Central St Martin’s really takes into account the support that graduates need at a crucial time and it will be hugely valuable in other regions of the UK. There is a clear opportunity for this to be replicated. I think fundamentally it’s a very good blueprint to take to other companies. It is also a much more reciprocal project, which I think offers a lot more for graduates and hopefully, is of benefit to their institution as well.

Tamiko O’Brien, Principal, City & Guilds of London Art School