Mentorships in many industries are common. They’re an excellent way to build your skills and learn from a highly experienced professional. Some mentorships are informal: mentees simply find someone who’s willing to volunteer their time to help out. Others are formalized via an arts mentorship program like this new one that has just emerged in Ontario: The Canadian Senior Artists’ Resource Network / Le Centre de ressources pour les artistes aînés du Canada has received private funding for a new mentorship program beginning January 2014.
I benefited immensely from Theatre Ontario’s mentorship program Professional Theatre Training Program (PTTP). It’s geared towards emerging arts administrators. I had taken college courses on arts administration, but there were still many things the books didn’t teach. I applied to focus on accounting and fundraising skills, my two weakest areas at the time.
Working alongside someone more experienced filled in those gaps. My bookkeeping entries became easier. I also had a few small but successful grant applications, which meant more money for the arts organization I was working for.
The other night at my PWAC meeting we were discussing grant applications. Applying to a mentorship program is similar, especially if money is involved.
One member, a grant writer, explained that a solid grant application is like a winning pitch on Dragon’s Den (or Shark Tank, for those in the US). It has a strong track record, concrete details, and a confident plan. When I applied for the Theatre Ontario program, that’s how I attacked my application. I got it.
If you’re in Ontario and are seriously practicing your art, consider applying to The Canadian Senior Artists’ Resource Network’s mentorship program. The mentors are being paid for their time with you, which is not always the case with mentorships. You can apply as a mentor or a mentee. Applications for both roles are due in October. It’s only available in Ontario right now but should expand nationally in year three.
If you’ve applied and/or participated in a mentorship program before, feel free to share your experiences in the comments section. I just ask that you leave the names of the mentors/mentees involved out. It’s important to me that we respect people’s privacy.