For Townsville resident, Emily Richards, a new paid internship within the arts sector could mean better opportunities to land her dream job, thanks to our partnership with Skilling Queenslanders for Work (SQW).

As part of the State Government initiative, Queenslanders from a vulnerable background, like Emily, are placed into a paid traineeship where they develop workplace skills, gain qualifications and are provided direct assistance to enter and stay in the workforce.

Program Coordinator from Access Community Services, Joan Kern, has supervised Emily’s 18-week Work Skills Traineeship with Townsville’s Umbrella Studios, one of Australia’s longest-running contemporary art centres with an annual program of exhibitions, public programs, and special events.

After meeting Emily and learning about her disability and keen interest in the arts, Joan says she was the perfect candidate for the SQW program, particularly with the Arts sector connections Access Community Services have through their BEMAC (Brisbane Multicultural Arts Centre) division and partnership with the Queensland Government’s Regional Arts Services Network (RASN) in the Townsville region.

“This experience gave Emily some great exposure to different mediums, and she gained a lot of behind-the-scenes gallery experience, including extra business administration skills to make herself eligible to work in an art gallery,” Joan said.

Although Emily has now completed her paid traineeship, she continues to volunteer at the art studio, and work towards her goal of one day moving to and working in Melbourne’s art scene – plans which have currently been put on hold due to COVID-19.

“I always make sure to accept new opportunities thrown at me, anything that helps me grow, not only as an artist, but as a person. In a few years from now, I hope to be living in Melbourne and hopefully employed at one of their galleries,” Emily said.

“My favourite thing about working at Umbrella Studio was the fact that I always felt that I was where I wanted to be, that I was working towards my career goals. Nothing felt like a chore and I always looked forward to starting work each day.

“I find that working in the arts brings me peace and balance that I probably wouldn't find at an office job. Creativity is part of who I am, so why not make a career out of it?”