We need to talk about a problem in the arts. There are not enough opportunities for creatives from diverse backgrounds. It's a problem Adobe and the V&A in London (and MoMA in New York) are aiming to solve with a 'multi-year (and multi-million dollar)' residency programme to give underrepresented, emerging creatives a platform to get noticed and support the next generation of artists.
The Adobe & Museums Creative Residency is aimed at giving the next generation of creatives a voice, first with residency and full access to the facilities of the V&A and MoMA and then by enabling those creatives to work with schools to encourage involvement in the arts. (Read our guide to Adobe software for more.)
"It's a clarion call for the vital place of creative practice, in life and in the lives of learners across the board and our schools, communities, young people, and families," says Dr Helen Charman, Director of Learning, National Programmes and Young V&A. "There's a fantastic alignment between the very values at the inception of the V&A, and what Adobe are really committed to promoting."
This is a global $4.1m expansion of the Adobe Creative Residency programme that will enable the V&A in London to employ three full-time residents and MoMA in New York to employ one. They will gain full access unrivalled arts resources and mentorship, studio space, tools, creative programming and displays to showcase their work, as well as having complete access to the V&A (or MoMA) to reflect on exhibitions and become a focal point for schools and education planning and resources.
It's a programme, funded from the Adobe Foundation, and it's needed. Due to a lack of government investment in the arts, a survey by PEC found only 16% of creative industry jobs are occupied by working class professionals. Covid too, has impacted access to the arts, reducing the opportunities of creatives from diverse backgrounds.
This partnership though will chip away at that inequality and will bring to light new voices in art and design with the aim of creating a lasting legacy for underrepresented creatives. It's this spotlight on change that Dr Charman tells me is so vital, as there's a recognition new creatives, with support, can not only inspire a new generation but help institutions evolve and become more approachable.
Dr Charman explains: "We'll be able to select residents whose practice and whose approach resonates with those audiences, and it's good for the institution, because it makes sure that the institution itself continues to be innovating and looking outside itself. New creatives are the lifeblood of the institution."
The V&A has always had a range of programmes aimed at promoting new voices in the arts, and works with a mix of diverse practitioners, learners and partner organisations but this team-up with Adobe is something more ambitious. It also means the V&A can use its current programmes to encourage new artists and designers to apply. Oh, and as long as you're 18 and over anyone can apply.
"Apart from that there's no other restrictions," says Charman with passion. "You know, they don't need to have had any formal art training. They don't need to have any particular degree requirements. They don't need to follow any kind of conventional avenues into their career."
So, what are you waiting for? Applications are open from today for the V&A, at vam.ac.uk. Applications for MoMA will open later this year. Remember, for both residency programmes all-comers are welcome.