Arts Emergency

Janet Weston

PhD Student and legacy manager for charities

I studied English at university for a very predictable reason: I loved reading and wanted to write! I moved to Hackney and studied at Queen Mary’s, in Mile End, and enjoyed it so much that I’ve been returning to university regularly ever since – ten years after graduating, and a lot of night classes later, I’m back again for the fourth time, working on a PhD in modern British history at Birkbeck.

I moved to London with a plan to be a music journalist after graduating, but ended up working for a music charity instead! I was incredibly fortunate to find my way into a good career in the charity sector after my BA, doing everything from organising events to managing millions in income. Working for charities helped to pay for my postgraduate degrees, gave me a huge amount of experience, and is a great way to earn a living while actually doing something worthwhile. Charities are full of arts graduates, writing, researching designing, raising money, raising awareness, and using their skills and imagination to improve the world. I now do freelance charity work alongside career number 2 as an academic. Incredibly, that means I now get paid to spend most of my time reading and writing – probably the best job in the world.

I want to volunteer for Arts Emergency because I’m worried about the future of arts education, and I know how hard it can be to justify an arts degree and to imagine how to turn it into something to pay the rent! Everyone should have access to an arts degree if they have the potential and passion for it, and we need all the artists and thinkers we can get at the moment.