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  • Writer's pictureKeith Jeffrey

The 7 States of a Working Class Cultural Professional Career

State 2 – The Cultural Sector: They do things differently here





As you make your way into the professional world of the cultural sector you start to notice a few things.


Those traditional values you were brought up with, hard work, make sure you deliver, always give of your best, don’t seem to apply.


You soon realise that getting your head down to do the work is not as important as knowing the right people and making sure they know about your work regardless of its actual quality or impact.


This is bewildering at first but try thinking in terms of Social Capital.



By definition working class people are without social capital, you simply do not know the right people, or even who they might be to understand how to be successful. You can only find out through biter experience.


This makes it difficult to navigate the cultural sector because after a while you simply realise that being good is not much cop unless the right people know who you are and understand your work.


You will read lots of stuff about funders looking for evidence based work and then when that evidence is presented they still go elsewhere.


Fundraising is hard enough anyway but the reasons you’re being turned down seem arbitrary. You get surprised by unexpected responses which leave you feeling like an alien, disorientated and uncertain.


“What is it with this world can’t they see that I’m doing amazing work here and how did they get their funding when it is nowhere near as good as mine?”


The indicators of success are subtly different and you simply haven’t realised. You can feel it in the tiny little exclusionary conversations between middle class professionals who name drop and feel naturally at ease with each other because they talk the same language.


Knowing how to navigate this world is vital if you are to achieve all that you are capable of.


They social capital possessed by others gives them an advantage (BTW they are completely unaware of this) because it gives them the confidence to argue for work in ways which you simply do not have the inner confidence or chutzpah to do so.


This becomes a magical world of bewildering career progression where others who you KNOW are being given better opportunities despite the fact they have less track record or demonstrable ability.


It’s even worse in the regions where you have to fight against the deadweight of London and vastly better funded national institutions and with local funders to even value what you do in the first place.


Never forget you are a stranger in a foreign land.


What might be helpful for you is having someone alongside who has worked the same journey as you, who can interpret the massages you are picking up and respond effectively.


If you are working class and you want to be effective in this world and have the sort of career you know you are capable of then this is an invisible obstacle you must overcome. IF you don’t you might be making mistakes you’re not even aware of and that could see your career stall.


I can help you with this. I’ve been through the mill, I know how things work and can help you understand where you are now, interpret the experiences you’re having and help you make the right next steps.


This is why I retrained as a coach so I could help people realise their true potential. By using my skills and experience I can help you avoid the mistakes I made.


If you want to feel more confident about moving forward in the career you love why not drop me a line for chat, it could be transformatory.


Message me if this is the sort of help you need.


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