Traineeships: The Art of Success

Traineeships: The Art of Success

ArtsReady Advisory Committee member and industry stalwart, John Smithies launched his career in the creative sector in the early 1980”s, thanks to taking up a traineeship opportunity.

Mr Smithies recalls being put through his paces and a grounding in the arts and culture during the experience at the Adelaide Festival Centre, coordinated through the Australian Council for the Arts.

“The traineeship concept was the perfect opportunity for someone like me, who was fresh out of art school and wanted to get a job. The traineeship focused on administration in the arts,” he explained.

“Now, I’ve continued my career and that’s mostly because of the experience I had all of those years ago,” said the former Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the State Film Centre.

“Once I finished the traineeship they (The Australian Council for the Arts) decided to keep me on for another 6 months! Then they got another trainee after that too,” he laughed.

From there, his career continued to reach new heights – with the former trainee progressing to more senior roles, including becoming the CEO of the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI) and the Cinemedia Corporation. Now, Mr Smithies is the Director of the Cultural Development Network and still believes in the value and opportunities traineeships can provide, after hosting a number of trainees since his own experience almost 40 years ago. He said seeing his trainees go onto their own success makes the whole process very rewarding and worthwhile.

“I had a trainee from back in 2011 and she contacted me about a reference. Since leaving she’s had a wonderful career in the arts and is now moving onto some huge opportunities. It’s so great to see people achieve, after having someone take a chance on them and give them that experience.”

Arts and culture remain one of Australia’s fastest growing and most impressive industries. Local government areas are also beginning to take part, offering paid experience opportunities for young people who are also keen to learn practical skills in the process.

“Getting a job in the industry is often about who you know. But that excludes people who don’t have those opportunities… ArtsReady and its partnerships with local governments have really started to change that.”

Mr Smithies has credited ArtsReady and its local government partners for helping regional and rural towns flourish, with the concept encouraging young people to learn new skills and take up new careers in the arts in their own communities, ensuring those regions continue to evolve and thrive along with the sector.

“It’s a great opportunity in a high demand area of growth that is desperate for skilled people. The breadth of companies, producers and local government ArtsReady works with is outstanding. ArtsReady traineeships are a rare opportunity, so make sure you take it.”

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