Top tips for getting into the arts sector

The arts sector offers an incredible range of exciting and diverse career options. However, navigating it and figuring out how to get onto your chosen career path can be unclear.

The creative industries don’t tend to mass recruit so you might have to think a bit differently about how you find and approach opportunities.  

A paintbrush covered in red paint surrounding by a circular splatter pattern on a white background.

Understanding what kinds of experience and qualifications you need in order to pursue your desired career is an important first step.

Many industries expect to see a portfolio or are looking for specialist skills. Our sector guides are a great place to start when looking to kick-start a career in the arts.

These helpful guides have tailored information and advice about industries such as the performing arts, digital media, and heritage.

Finding work opportunities

Finding opportunities in the arts can be more difficult than in STEM. Less opportunities are widely advertised in the arts industries, particularly in very competitive sectors such as film and television.

Making speculative applications is therefore a great way to target your energies towards the companies and the roles that you would like. Even if your application is not successful, speculative applications can be a great way to get on a company’s radar and make connections which may help you in the future.  

Taking on a less intense or part-time role in a related field can also be a great way to get your foot in the door while you continue to progress in your desired career. Being prepared to move fluidly between different roles as you establish your niche in the arts can be beneficial. Taking less related opportunities may not feel as much like progress, but there are many ways that they may benefit your learning and development. 

Gaining work experience

Gaining work experience in the industry of your choice is a great way to gain an edge when you’re applying for roles in the arts. Look for opportunities which will help you to build the skills you need; volunteering with your local museum, writing guest articles for smaller blogs or magazines, or working with a community arts group to help build the experience you need.  

Another great way to gain work experience in the arts is through internships. Internships are a great way to gain new skills, make connections with a company and individuals, and earn while you learn. You can search for opportunities or source your own through your network and speculative applications. 


Networking. We hear all the time how important it is and arts recruitment is no different. If anything, it’s even more important depending on the industry and can help you find opportunities which you otherwise might not have access to. Why not make the most of in-person networking events happening in the arts such as events set up by the Bristol Creative Industries or young professional meetups.

Another great way to build your network is by finding yourself a mentor from among Bristol’s alumni. Bristol Connects is a free platform which you can use to reach out to alumni in your chosen field.  

Next steps

So, what are your next steps? Having a plan is really helpful when it comes to pursuing a career in the arts. Hopefully, this has provided you with some ideas about how you can get started, but if you’re still struggling with where to start you can always get in touch with us and speak to someone about your career options.

For further practical ways of accessing the so-called hidden jobs market, take a look at our advice on reigniting your job search

Want to learn more? Get some first-hand insight from an arts graduate on how they launched their career in participatory arts!