1. Challenges and opportunities for Careers in the Arts

"So, you like art. Would you like to clean the museum?"

Generations of supported employment and vocational rehab specialists have been taught to ignore the records, just meet with a person and get an impression of what they like, then using that impression, place them into a position -near- to what they like. But these positions tend to persist in being part of the 5 F's - filing, food, flowers, filth, and folding. The agencies get paid as long as the person is employed, no matter if that job will never actually build their career as an artist. Then when they 'graduate' in 4 years from their paid supported position, they are transitioned out to find work for which they remain unprepared and unconnected.... or back to the sheltered settings.

 

I can tell you as a parent of an artist who has autism, no vocational counselor has EVER taken it seriously. Even when we show them the art, when we show them the vocational certificates in multimedia design from fully accredited programs, art is not considered a vocation that will lead to a job in the local economy. They look at it as an interest. They will build on that interest by putting him near other art... sweeping the floors and taking out the trash.

 

The solution is to develop apprenticeships with artists, graphic designers, print shops, etc.., and pay the salary of the apprentice plus all benefits and employer expenses, including liability insurance, plus a bonus for successful continued placement to the hosts. Provide direct support providers for the artists who need them -- preferably people who want to learn more about art themselves, or people considering a career in education, art, or therapy. Then, most important of all, link the apprenticeship success outcome to the outcomes measures required of VR for their continued funding, and make sure that art supplies, software, hardware, etc. are covered vocational materials and expenses.

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Idea No. 17