Bicycle boombox building plans

Here at SUArts we’ve been busy with imminent arrival of Freshers but as well as this personally I’ve still managed to find time to plan for a new venture. I present to you the bicycle boombox plan. The sound system will hopefully become a key tool and signature of both SUArts and Arts Group at any kind of demo, event or situation where we want to be heard!

I am currently looking for all items scribbled below, Freecycle is preferable! If anyone has any of the parts listed please do email me at education@su.arts.ac.uk

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As an update on the recent slower pace of Arts Group posts and communication, after our Freshers’ Festival is over next week we shall be in contact regarding an arts union conference, dates, times, places etc.

Talk soon,

Hannah, SUArts

Unpaid Internships

Nowadays, we hear more often than not that internships are the only way to break into the creative industry for the majority of art students and graduates.  If you are looking for an internship, it wouldn’t take you long to realise that unfortunately there aren’t many paid positions available. With this in mind, let’s take a look at a few key facts about unpaid internships:

  • If you have been given set hours to work and are expected to take on specific tasks, then you are doing the work of a paid employee therefore should be considered as a worker.
  • Any worker within the UK is entitled to (at least) the national minimum wage (currently £6.19/h for over 21s)
  • Even if you have signed a contract saying you are happy to work for free, you are still eligible for the minimum wage.
  • You can take legal action against an employer who refuses to pay you. The recent case of a Sony intern is a good case.

Why are we against Unpaid Internships?

Not everyone can afford to work for free. It is as simple as that. Some employers argue that a lot of interns are happy to work for free to gain experience as it helps their CV and teaches them skills not learnt at university. However, if we accept this claim the individuals who aren’t happy and/or cannot afford to work for free would never become an intern and subsequently wouldn’t have experience to progress to paid positions. By closing our eyes to this issue we are refusing artists from disadvantaged backgrounds to progress with their career in the arts. In my view, elitism in art is the death of creativity- I’m sure that I’m not alone when I say this.

As we all now know, hiring unpaid interns and using them as free labour is illegal but unfortunately due to a lack of supervision by the government and the fear of complaining by interns, this is a practice that is growing exponentially. I believe that the best we can do is to be aware of what we are entitled to and try to make it loud and clear when an organisation, company or individual doesn’t comply by these guidelines. It has been proven that the majority of whom exploit young artists, care more about their public image than anything else.

Together we can stop this. NO TO UNPAID INTERNSHIPS, THAT’S WHAT I’M TALKING ABOUT!

Mostafa Rajaai

Culture and Diversity Officer, SUArts

What its all about

So, hello, I’m Hannah – the Education Officer at SUArts. When I started my term in early July my predecessor Courtney lovingly handed over Arts Group to me, requesting that it was keep it alive. So here we are, on a shiny new WordPress saying hello and welcoming everyone to what will hopefully be an interesting year for the group.

For starter’s, here is a brief introduction to the group, for those of you that may not know what we’re (going/have been) all about: By ‘definition’ the Arts Group is a national lobbying and campaigning group representing creative students from several major arts institutions in the UK. The group has been active since summer 2009, covering campaigns including arts funding, unpaid internships and hidden course costs. As well as this, early movements in the group saw the meeting of the first National Student Art Summit; the meeting included visiting speakers, presentations and workshops – something which we aspire to run again.

With the reappearance of Arts Group, this year we want to call another meeting, inviting representatives from creative institutions across the UK to come and discuss current issues affecting our students and also more generally across the creative sector.

Ambitions for Arts Group in the foreseeable future are for student representation to grow onwards and upwards, allowing the group to become a strong and known platform for fundamental issues and concerns that specifically affect only arts students.

I will shortly be in touch with students’ union officers across the country calling for wider participation in the group; this will also include larger institutions that have art schools and faculty within them. The hope is that we can gain representation from each university that runs any kind of creative, design or performing course. This would benefit arts university unions in sharing best practice but at the same time also benefit unions that have little or no arts representation within their organisation. This would work through delegates being elected/appointed, attending meetings and then feeding back to their union to encourage and show them where they can campaign and lobby within their universities.

The government needs to learn and understand key and pressing issues affecting our institutions. Cuts in the arts across the board are hacking away at our creative sector, a sector in which contributions to the UK economy has increased since the recession began in 2008. According to a report by the Local Government Association, for every pound spent on the arts, £4 is returned to the national economy – the idea that spending on the arts is unjustifiable is nothing but a myth. For a government apparently so obsessed with turning everything into a business, they don’t seem to have a clue about the positive social AND economic benefits of investment in the arts.

Since the last Arts Group push a lot has changed, we are fighting in a different climate where it is even more important for us to unite and make our voices heard. From the new extortionate tuition fees for both Home/EU and international students to the massive cuts in arts education funding, the list goes on – enjoy the placard Shelly drew and I coloured in below.

Cuts are a pain in the arts

We feel that Arts Group is more relevant than ever. That’s why it’s so important we start the conversation again, and this time even louder. That’s why I hope you will join me to discuss building an even more robust and confident Arts Group movement.

If you would like any more information, have any suggestions or would generally just like to get involved then don’t hesitate to get in touch. You can also find us on Facebook and Twitter.

Spread the word, create some hype, more soon,

Hannah, SUArts Education Officer

education@su.arts.ac.uk