Earlier this year the team at Bluecoat, Liverpool’s contemporary arts centre, approached Sandra Dartnell, CCSkills Partnership Manager for North West England, for advice and support around the development of their recruitment policy. We invited their Chief Executive Mary Cloake to share her thoughts on the process:

At Bluecoat, we wanted to open up our recruitment process to include a wider socio-economic field and connect more effectively with local networks. We had three particular roles in mind:

Weston Jerwood Fellowship – Assistant Creative Producer (Circuit Space) a new role specifically targeted at candidates from a socio-economic background not widely represented in the arts. We wanted this role to be filled by a candidate from the North West so we could start to build a team at Bluecoat that reflects the communities that we serve. The role was intended to support a new strand of our exhibitions programme for artists from the Liverpool City Region.

Two fixed term roles- Facilitator and Curator –  for our project, Echoes & Origins which examines Bluecoat’s mercantile maritime origins and colonial legacies and involves local young people in exploring this history to find points of connection.

We wanted the recruitment policy to extend beyond these roles so that as we built our team for the future, we would be more inclusive and relevant in our reach, as we believe that this will strengthen us in the long run.

We were clear in our objectives for the recruitment, but unsure how to go about it, particularly in getting the right tone and in choosing the language in which we described the opportunity.  We approached CCSkills for support and were immediately impressed by the depth of understanding, and the quality and detail of the practical advice that they offered. CCSkills stood by us throughout the process and assisted us in navigating the challenges we faced in reaching more people from diverse backgrounds, including young people at the beginning of their working lives.

We were delighted by the exceptional response! We received over 240 applications for the Jerwood role. A large proportion of these candidates could have been appointed – unfortunately we had only one vacancy for this role but the process revealed a large pool of talented and capable people who were actively seeking a role in the arts. It has made us reflect on ways in which we can offer progression routes for people into creative occupations.

Our goal is to make Bluecoat a place where our people from all kinds of diverse backgrounds can find their own pathway into a career in the arts. CCSkills have helped us to take our own steps towards realising goal.

‘Creative & Cultural Skills has played a pivotal role in re-shaping our recruitment policy. Our goal is to make the Bluecoat a place where people from all kinds of diverse backgrounds can find their own pathway into a career in the arts. Creative & Cultural Skills has helped us to take our own steps towards realising this goal.’
Mary Cloake, Chief Executive at Bluecoat

Bluecoat is Liverpool’s centre for the contemporary arts – a bustling cultural venue which sees 700,000 visits each year. Their city centre positioning, the heritage of the building and their hospitality business help them to attract an audience to Bluecoat which is diverse in age, gender, disability, ethnicity and socio-economic background. Bluecoat hosts a regular programme of exhibitions, live events, workshops and discussions covering a range of art forms including visual art, music, dance and literature. They run a participation programme which enables people who might otherwise face barriers to engagement to be involved in the contemporary arts. Alongside this offer, Bluecoat is also home to a community of creative retailers, working artist studios, a cafe and a bistro. Bluecoat was the UK’s first arts centre and is based in a grade I listed building, the oldest in Liverpool city centre. Find out more about Bluecoat on their website.

Get in touch

If you work in the creative and cultural sector and would like to chat to the CCSkills team about how we can support your organisation around fair, diverse and inclusive recruitment and workforce development, please contact us at info@ccskills.org.uk. We also offer a regular training programme and 1:1 advice clinics, find out more.