#PRODEV2012 was developed by Ben Vickers with support from Tom Grimsey at Brighton University. This initial iteration was designed and run for below £1000 as a pilot to develop a new sort of professional development within higher education. Aimed at tackling the personal and collective development of students graduating into a new age of uncertainty and economic reality - in which precarity and portfolio careers have become the norm.
The program was structured around a series of talks that focused on the How rather than the What - speakers spoke from personal experience about how they made things happen. With content focused on the production of new artistic practice and how those graduating might consider supporting themselves upon graduation, based on current methods that work. This investigation was supported by reading lists, online discussion, talks and focus groups.
We are living through exceptionally precarious and uncertain times, with current 16-24 year old unemployment figures exceeding record highs of 1.6 million and 1 in 5 recent graduates unable to find work. This is a situation with little hope for improvement in the coming years. Graduating in 2012 will undoubtedly be an exceptionally disheartening and grim experience for most young people.
“The Lost Generation” or “The graduate with no future” have become commonplace terms for news reports and articles to characterise the gloomy prospects for those graduating today. However this projected future, presents at times a distorted and disempowering reality for young people and demonstrates in many ways a misrepresentation of the activities and work many are engaged and committed to. Whilst it is true that this generation is unlikely to be as economically prosperous as their parents generation, this isn’t necessarily reflective of a lack of productivity and creativity but rather a lack of visibility for how recent graduates have continued to work during recession.
The goal of this program is to address the fundamental issues of graduating into this new economic reality, by confronting the ‘professional’ context of the art world and its outer edges, the program will draw on the experiences of a group of individuals who have taken original and self initiated routes in developing a ‘career’. The primary aim will be to empower students to forge their own trajectory and to identify the core values in their personal skill set for establishing a sustainable form of living.
Together we will work to define what a practice or career can be outside of University life. Facilitated through open discussion, original research and working towards a self governed social network for students to communicate and build bridges with recent graduates and society at large.
In considering a shift from classic Fordist labour practices to a Post-Fordist economy, we will scrutinise the value of present skill sets developed in art school education for life beyond university. Art School education has come to offer a unique opportunity inside of contemporary institutions for self initiated work, creativity and research on the subjects that individuals define as important to them.
With this in mind there will be a heavy focus on the nuts and bolts and practical application of a self sustaining practice and how to extend this skill set outside of education. Individual speakers will present their experience of forming collectives, constructing and financing live/work spaces and the day to day running of a portfolio based career. With a diverse set of speakers, from startup entrepreneurs through to independent curators and self financed artist collectives, the weekly series will present a comprehensive approach to navigating the new world of work.