Case Study

“I’m a lot more driven and I’m a lot more confident about taking opportunities.”

Date published: 13 Dec 2023

Posted by: Joe Pick

Young artist holds certificate reading ELEVATE. They are standing next to the course leader.

Caitlin Mccavana is one of twelve young artists who took part in City Arts’ Autumn 2023 ELEVATE course. From writing a business plan to building their brand, participants learnt essential skills for starting a creative career. They attended a mix of online and offline workshop and talks that helped them explore the possibilities of a creative career and build connections with other artists from their age group.

Our ELEVATE courses prioritise people who have taken non-traditional routes into the arts. Caitlin is a self-taught, neurodivergent artist who doesn’t have a formal arts education. Since completing ELEVATE, she has joined City Arts’ youth panel, Voice Up.

Before I did the course, I was very shut off. I wasn’t part of anything. I don’t have a job and I’m not in education, so I don’t see many people. I wanted to do something as part of a group, and I wanted to do something that progressed my art career. I don’t think I had many expectations because I’d never taken part in anything like ELEVATE before. I definitely didn’t expect to get as much out of it as I did!

City Arts felt like a safe and comfortable place to learn. I’m autistic and I mask a lot. But during the course there were a lot of instances where I’d say I wasn’t masking. That’s not something I can usually do in a new environment. We had a talk by artist Rachel Parry, who is neurodivergent. They spoke about how their neurodivergence affects and informs their artwork, which I can relate to a lot.

Group stood outside, writing on note pads
A walking workshop for ELEVATE, led by Amelia Daiz

I didn’t expect to relate so much to the other people doing the course. It was helpful to meet people at different stages in their career, and to hear their stories. I’ve had low confidence regarding my art stuff. ELEVATE really boosted my confidence.

I’m definitely a lot more enthusiastic about things since taking part in the course. I’m a lot more driven and I’m a lot more confident about taking opportunities. That’s one of the things I took away from artist Edwina Kung’s talk. She was saying that when she applies for a commission and doesn’t get it, she still sees it as a success. She congratulates herself for going through the process, and making the application, despite the outcome. That’s how I hope to look at it, to put myself out there and learn from the feedback.

Caitlin Mccavana talks about her painting of a cityscape
Caitlin at the Young Producers Takeover Showcase

The course has inspired me to be more open to different ways of doing things, whether that’s creating my work or putting my work out there. Now I’ve seen so many different people doing it in different ways. I’ve started to do photography to get inspiration for my paintings. I learned that from ELEVATE, from other people on the course who are photographers.

Thank you for the opportunity, I’m very grateful.

Caitlin’s story shows how important City Arts’ work supporting early-career artists is. We nurture artists, adapting to their specific needs. It’s done through courses like ELEVATE, collectives like the Young Producers and projects like Artployment. Connecting with experienced artists, and networking with other emerging artists, has been inspirational for this young artist.