High school students explore careers in the cultural sector through ASPIRE UNSW and the Sydney Culture Network

Ailsa Weaver


ARTWORX is a UNSW Art & Design outreach program devised and co-ordinated by art and design educator Ailsa Weaver, originating as an independent MCCL Capstone project in 2016.

The program model takes the form of two-part excursion experience for students from low SES, Western Sydney and regional and remote NSW schools targeted by ASPIRE UNSW, combining site visits to an institution from the GLAM+ alliance (Artspace), campus-situated exhibition spaces (UNSW Galleries and AD Space) and a tour of the facilities and studios at the UNSW Art & Design Paddington site. Students engage in a workshop involving role-play, brainstorming an exhibition and art-making, synthesising ideas gathered throughout their cultural journey.

ARTWORX illuminates the path from higher study of Visual Arts to real careers in a diverse and rewarding sector by meeting exhibition makers, artists, tertiary students and educators in their working environments. A point of difference from the content offered to the targeted students previously by UNSW Art & Design and currently by any other UNSW faculty is that the program meets not only broad pedagogical but BOSTES specific outcomes, in this case supporting the work of attending Visual Arts classroom teachers on their return to school. (1)


It may be that “…the arts remain marginalised in wider society, and are often the subject of derision and scepticism. We are taught that art and culture are nice hobbies, but hardly worth pursuing as a career.”(2) ARTWORX challenges this position by engaging students who already study art at Preliminary Course level, but would normally fall outside the university’s catchment, with new contexts and potential futures.

“The ARTWORX program has provided ASPIRE with a model that can be replicated across a number of faculty areas. As it has been designed by a secondary Art and Design teacher it focuses directly on syllabus outcomes and is therefore highly relevant in the stage 5/6 Visual Arts space. This model has the potential to be ‘best practice’ for a number of UNSW faculties in their collaboration with ASPIRE and to assist in meeting the targets of engaging LSES to UNSW.”
Ali Davies, Senior Project Officer, ASPIRE UNSW

To the question ”Which activities did you enjoy most today?”, students who participated in the pilot program responded:

Looking at the different studios and looking at the exhibitions
James Meehan HS
Meeting a practising artist
Bankstown Girls’ HS
I enjoyed the print making machines
James Meehan HS
Creating our own exhibit and exploring the galleries
Bankstown Girls’ HS
Steven Scott