ExploreTheArch’s Early Career Mentee Scheme for Freelance Artists with Barriers to Employment

Meet the team

ExploreTheArch’s mentee scheme recruits early career artists with barriers to employment in the Hastings and surrounding area with supported, paid work across the exciting array of interdisciplinary, creative projects that the company undertakes.

The team currently consists of twelve performers, graphic designers, musicians and visual artists who work in a variety interdisciplinary roles in 1:1 mentor artist partnerships. Four mentees, Yasmin Aishah, Maya Coombs, Esme Fisher and Tatenda Michael Manyarara are directors of the company.

The scheme is long term, recognising that the mentees who come to the programme have experienced a lack of support elsewhere, either falling between agencies or finding agencies have not supported them appropriately or have been available at the right time to be of help in keeping careers going when mental health challenges impact.

Managing a freelance portfolio and acquiring the multiple skills needed to support a freelance career are central learnings.

To qualify, mentees must have selected a freelance career in the cultural sector as the best fit to their challenges and career aspirations.

History of the Scheme

The scheme was set up in pilot form in 2019 with SECCADS funding, two years after ExploreTheArch originated the annual ATownExploresABook festival; work offered was geared to festival output. The mentees are now fully integrated into the company, working across all projects, and all donations are gratefully received.

What the Scheme offers the Industry

In supporting early career artists who would otherwise struggle to forge a career in the cultural sector, ExploreTheArch is generating a future workforce of cultural sector practitioners with diverse insights and underrepresented perspectives. Thus the scheme supports the long term health of the UK’s arts industry. The outlook is international, encouraging the early career cohort to engage with the world and navigate the UK’s emerging identity post-Brexit.