A new mentoring programme for female students studying in art disciplines across the UK has been launched. University Women in the Arts will link 15 female students up with mentors over the next year to help them progress their careers. The project is run in partnership between Writers at Work Productions, MA Dramatic Writing at Drama Centre London at Central Saint Martins, Tonic Theatre and Women of the Future Programme.
In the UK there is a large discrepancy between the number of women studying in the arts and the number of women who work in the arts in a professional or senior capacity. In 2013-14 women accounted for 63 per cent of all arts graduates (according to the Higher Education Statistics Agency), but at present just 30 per cent of professionals in the industry are women.
‘University Women in the Arts felt to me like a really good, practical way in which some of the imbalances in the trajectories of male and female arts graduates could be addressed,’ said Lucy Kerbel, director of Tonic Theatre. ‘While there is no one silver bullet that will solve everything, mentoring is an important part of the puzzle and so it’s great that University Women in the Arts is doing what it is.’
Mentors signed up to the scheme include Vicky Featherstone, artistic director of the Royal Court Theatre (pictured above, right); Tamara Rojo, artistic director of English National Ballet (pictured above, centre); Charlotte Higgins, chief culture writer at The Guardian; Jude Kelly, artistic director of the Southbank Centre and founder of WOW Festival (pictured above, left); and Dr Amanda Foreman, chair of the Man Booker Prize judging panel and presenter of recent BBC series The Ascent of Women.
Selected students include Zoe Bailey, Bath Spa University, who is also sales manager for Bath Festivals; Helena Jackson, Oxford University, who is president of the Oxford University Dramatic Society; Alice Evans, Chelsea College of Art, who is pursuing a PHD in Fine Art Film; and our own editor Maria Roberts, who is studying on a Master’s programme at Manchester Metropolitan University.
‘I want people, and women in particular, to realise their power both individually and collectively,’ commented Evans. ‘In order to do this, I welcome the opportunity of the support of other women who have been there before.’
A full list of mentors and students is available from the University Women in The Arts website.