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Crafts Job Profile: Taneesha Ahmed

We are highlighting the wealth of opportunities to build a career in craft through our Craft Journeys, a series of profiles that ask people work in the sector how they got there.

Tell us about what you do

As the Participation Producer at The Tetley in Leeds, my role involves organising and planning a range of activities for families, children, young people, schools and sometimes vulnerable adults, for example, adults with learning disabilities or mental health issues. The Tetley is an art gallery and space for learning, and a lot of my work is about making sure the gallery is accessible and that we reach new audiences, especially communities from South Leeds.

No day is the same: sometimes I could be in meetings with anyone from artists, teachers,  to councillors; other days I might be cleaning the learning studio and ordering art materials for our family art workshops and sometimes supporting artists to deliver their work. 

What did you study?

AS Level: Chemistry, Maths, English Literature, Art and Design

A Level: Maths, English Literature, Art and Design

Art and Design Foundation Diploma

I didn’t have a lot of guidance from family about having a creative career, so they were hesitant about supporting these choices. I was very  academic, so they really wanted me to have a career in something more stable or traditional such as medicine, law or accounting.

In the end, I made these choices independenty with the support of my art teachers and other staff. I knew I wanted to experience art school and be able to explore ideas and be creative on my own terms—something that I knew many people don’t get to experience. 

What have the main challenges been?

My parents worried that I wouldn’t be able to have a successful career in the arts. They didn’t always believe that I could achieve these goals which sometimes meant I lacked confidence in areas, but it also inspired me to work harder than my peers. 

The sector is very competitive, there are lots of great creative courses and talented graduates who all want to work in the same jobs and unfortunately there are not many positions around. I applied for lots of different roles and had multiple rejections, over time I learned to not take it personally and believe that the right organisation will see how I would be a good fit for them. 

Everyone has a different story to tell, which is why I’m really passionate about making the arts sector more inclusive and diverse, so we are all represented and our voices heard. 

What advice would you give to someone embarking on a career in craft?

As there are no set paths to working in the arts or creative sector, it can sometimes be very hard to see how you will achieve your own goals.

Firstly, I would identify a few role models, and see what they did to get where they are. That means researching whether they studied at university, or whether they learnt new skills from just working in the sector. Everyone has a different story, so it’s worth finding out what steps people took to get where they are.

It is important to know what the sector is like, and there might be opportunities to take part in programmes designed for young people, as well as  volunteering on projects, which are great ways of getting to know how other people got to where they are today. Try to research as many job roles as possible and see which works best for your personality.