Find A Mentor
Advice and Inspiration
Feedback, delivered in different ways, forms an important part of the campaign development process in the Making for Change programme.
Different artists and makers have worked on the Making for Change programme as mentors, including: Keith Bloomfield , Sarah Corbett, Deborette Clarke, Jane Thakoordin and Melanie Tomlinson amongst others.
Mentoring can work in different ways. Sarah Corbett, part of Craftivist Collective, ran ‘surgeries’ where participants received verbal feedback and a written ‘prescription’ to help them reflect on their campaign and its potential effectiveness – look out for Sarah’s prescriptions in the campaign scrapbooks.
For her Tea4Change campaign, Mahnaz had 1-to-1 mentor sessions with artist Melanie Tomlinson and artivist Jane Thakoordin.
These sessions helped Mahnaz develop her campaign and organise a pop-up tea party in Birmingham's Cathedral Square, inviting a range of people including the Mayor of Birmingham to drop by for tea, stitching and conversation.
Making for Change has also included a Maker Mentor programme. A group of 5 young people were recruited through youth organisation Aspire4U.
They chose a maker to work with over 8-10 sessions to explore the issue they cared about and develop their ideas into a campaign. They presented at the Aston and Newtown festivals: Flyover and Simmer Down.
During the mentoring sessions young people visited exhibitions, artist studios and cultural venues. They worked on the practical elements of their campaign, receiving regular support and feedback.
An outside eye on your work can provide essential feedback on how effective your idea is as well as giving pointers for its execution.
Like Mahnaz you may need guidance on how to reach an audience to ensure a successful event, or how to make your campaign more visually impactful.
Input can happen in different ways. Craftivist Sarah Corbett created a space for non-judgmental and practical advice at the end-point of projects. Whereas for Mahnaz, regular contact with a mentor gave the opportunity for feedback at each stage of the campaign - planning, making and presenting.
So now you may feel inspired to find a mentor when creating your own craftivism campaign.
But a mentor doesn't necessarily have to be an expert or a pioneer in their field. In fact, a good mentor does not have to be directly involved in your area of interest, just someone who is able to see the bigger picture and offer some support and ideas. Feedback can be helpful from anyone, from the target audience of your social action campaign to a friend unfamiliar with the issue.
However, if you are looking for a more formal mentor, there are safe and reputable ways to find one. Mentors or mentoring programmes are often included as part of a youth project or space specifically set up for young people. There may be some in your local area, or online. Research youth organisations and if there is one that shares your interests get in touch with them to find out more about what they could offer you.
Listen to you.
Help you discover a solution to a problem.
Suggest ways to improve your professional skills such as in teamwork or leadership.
Empathise with your feelings.
Give you activities to inspire creativity.
Share their own area of expertise.
Provide feedback on your work.
Guide you on goal-setting in the long and short term.
Suggest reference books, films or other media to grow your knowledge.
A Curator's Perspective
I've been lucky to have some great mentors in my life. One was an encouraging line manager in a job, others were gained through official career development programmes.
One common thread has been a mutual respect. This is a respect for each others' time, background, experience and especially confidentiality.
While we come from different backgrounds, I appreciate the time with my most recent mentor as we have a lot of shared values. Our meeting topics can vary from balancing various freelance roles in order to achieve my long-term goals to the unspoken rules in the arts and media industry.
I really recommend having some form of mentor in your life, even a friend. Another unofficial mentor of mine is a fellow producer who has a few more years of experience but does similar work. Her career is something I am working towards but to learn some of her challenges has been insightful too!