By Carlos Alonso
Elvira Rilova holds a Master in Organization of Events and Protocol from the Complutense University of Madrid and she is currently working on her PhD in Cultural Management from the University of Burgos. She is one of the executive managers of Acelerador de Artistas and she also coordinates online courses at the University of Burgos.
PART 1: The education of Arts and Humanities students
Hi Elvira! Tell us about your teaching experience.
The programme of my courses revolves around the technical aspects of cultural management: actions of sponsorship, partnership agreements, resume writing, etc.
What are the main weaknesses you find in Arts and Humanities students?
The students are unfamiliar to the labour market. From my point of view, they lack knowledge of cultural management. Therefore, I usually tell them stories from my professional experience. I talk to them about successful, but also about failure, so I can sympathise and capture their attention.
How would you improve Arts & Humanities degrees?
I think that bachelor’s degrees which allow students to design their own curriculum are quite interesting. I also believe that the specialization should be part of the bachelor’s degree, whereas the master’s degree should emphasize the practical aspects of the profession.
As a teacher, how do you organise the course? Which method do you use to evaluate your students? Do you keep a constant feedback with your students?
I mainly work as an online teacher. Once the students are familiarized with the content, they must complete a list of activities to test their knowledge. Of course! I keep a constant feedback to my students. Sometimes is quite difficult, because the groups of students may vary from 20 to 65 students. However, the 85-90 per cent of the students usually pass the test.
What do you think of the use of new technologies in the classroom? Recently, a report by EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative (@EDUCAUSELI) highlighted the use of virtual assistants in the classroom.
New technologies have become a fundamental part of the education system. Besides, online courses as the Massive Online Open Courses (MOOC), allow universities to address a bigger audience, helping to minimize the impact of depopulation in rural areas.
PART 2: Access to the labour market
Do you think that the students of Arts & Humanities are ready to start working once they have completed their degrees?
No, I think they lack professional experience.
How would you improve the transition from the education system to the labour market? Do you know any initiative which helps students in this process?
I think it is necessary to foster the entrepreneurship education. Also, I believe that institutions should organise events to connect companies and students more often. Scholarships and grants should also be improved. Spanish universities lack financial resources and the paperwork is always exhausting.
How did you jump from the education system to the labour market?
In my case, the transition was quite smooth. In fact, I studied and worked at the same time, so I was able to gain expertise before getting my degree. Moreover, during my Erasmus in Rome, I coordinate a showroom with a partner. But we did not get any kind of grant. I would say that I have always been kind of self-educated.
PART 3: Professional experience in the cultural sector
How did you come up with the idea for Acelerador de Artistas? How does the process work?
My partner and I decided to start up our own business on consultancy services for artists during the financial crisis. At the beginning, our clients were mainly people we knew from previous collaborations. Now, artists and companies contact us also through our webpage. Thankfully, we have been able to create an extensive network of clients through the years.
Regarding the consultancy services: What are the most common demands among artists?
Usually, the artists contact us when they have to apply for a call, submit a dossier or draft a statement. I have noticed that artists find many difficulties to understand the technical aspects of the paperwork. In the case of enterprises and organizations, they usually contact us for cultural management services.
How do you proceed? Is there any kind of follow up once the job is over?
The process differs depending on the case. Some artists only need a review of their work, whereas others require a more elaborate collaboration. Yes, we usually keep in touch.
Tell us about your network: Do you take part in any organization, hub or initiative?
I have collaborated many times with MAV (Mujeres en las Artes Visuales) which supports female artists. A couple of months ago, for example, we organized an interesting series of talks at the Thyseen Museum. There are also other associations, I am not part of though, such as VEGAP (Visual Entidad de Gestión de Artistas Plásticos) that helps novel artists to address copyright issues. In this kind of environments, artist have the chance to cooperate with other professionals such as lawyers, journalists, etc.
Lastly, would you like to give some advice to the reader?
I think that bureaucracy and scholarships should be better organised, so students and society can take advantage of the incredible potential of the cultural sector. Besides, I think that we all should think of the importance of the culture to our society and foster the studies of Arts & Humanities at all the levels of education.
Thank you for your time!