SCOPE (Securing career opportunities and professional employment for artists)

Securing career opportunities and professional employment for artists (SCOPE) was a program designed to ensure that dance artists proactively participated in and effectively managed their own careers, education and personal development. Each of the artists worked with a professional career counsellor to develop their own career action plans. The program aimed to capture, transfer and adapt the creative capital of the individual artist to other areas of work and productivity.

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Sustaining a productive artistic career

Regardless of whether the artist is working in a company or independently, it is the individual who makes the commitment to develop and maintain their practice and produce art that we celebrate and are inspired by.

A sustainable career in the arts is one that:

  • activates practical and focused investment of time, ideas, and resources
  • demonstrates a culture of sound planning and foreseeable outcomes
  • is self-directed and contributes to the development and vibrancy of the nation’s arts profile
  • is rewarded and recognised for its value in the nation’s cultural heart

Artists run micro-businesses. They need to gather the resources to enable them to train, experiment and create art.

Supporting artists to be able to plan well, envision their professional pathways and achieve their goals is an important and sensible strategy that provides short and long-term assurances to the artist. But artists need more than money; they need the skills to operate in a constantly changing environment and take the risks necessary to define and re-define their art form boundaries.

Sustainability is the critical key aspect of being an artist.


The SCOPE program promoted a balanced approach to the career development of professional performing artists through a process of self-exploration, informed decision making and short and long-term planning.

The aim of the program was to ensure artists proactively participate in and effectively manage their own career, professional and personal development needs. SCOPE aimed to address three main areas:

  • Improving the earning capacity of professional artists through career and professional development guidance and planning.
  • Encouraging more effective management of the knowledge capital of professional artists by capturing information, mentoring and knowledge sharing.
  • Assisting the performing arts community to identify opportunities to create human capital through successful expansion, diversification and/or transition to alternative careers within the sector.


The SCOPE program was tailored to meet individual needs and provide a range of services, including:

  • individual assessment and career counselling development of a career and professional
  • development action plan
  • access to scholarships for personal and professional development courses (subject to application and assessment following acceptance as a program participant)
  • employment preparation
  • mentoring
  • business and industry networking and referrals
  • access to a national network of career professionals
  • transition planning and career development support.


In the initial year of the SCOPE for Dancers program (07/08), 24 artists were selected by application to participate and receive support and services for professional career development.

In the following year (08/09) this number rose to 38, and in 09/10 the number of artists active on the program (which had by now been established as an organisation, SCOPE for Artists) was 79. There was no call for applications in 2010 while the funding situation was unresolved. Towards the end of 2010, SCOPE participation was wound up, except for a selected 12, who were invited (11 accepted) to remain in the program.

How SCOPE was funded

SCOPE began as a pilot program that Ausdance National initiated with the Australian Sports Commission (ASC) in 2005, based on its National Athlete and Career Education (NACE) program.

It was then launched in 2006 as a strategic initiative of the Australia Council, which went on to invest more than $1m in the program over the following five years, in partnership with the ASC and Ausdance National. The funding enabled us to support the administration of the program, a team of career counsellors, and a professional development fund that serviced 99 artists.

SCOPE (Securing Career Opportunities and Professional Employment) was a unique professional development program providing career and professional development support services to Australia's professional dance, physical theatre and circus sectors.


This evaluation report provides information and analysis about the development, implementation and impact of the SCOPE for Artists initiative, which operated from 2007 to 2011 in Australia. The report was prepared for the Ausdance National Council for the purposes of archival record, evaluation and planning. The report also provides interested members of the public, sector leaders and arts policy makers in Australia and around the world with useful information as they seek to address issues affecting artists’ professional career development, management and sustainability. The report was written by Shane Carroll in 2012, with assistance from Clancy Rowe, following the cessation of the SCOPE for Artists program in 2011.

Creating SCOPE for artists: Development, management and sustainability in the careers of professional dance artists in Australia.

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SCOPE wound up

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Through professional mentoring, the SCOPE program enabled participants to develop relationships with prominent professionals who supported their growing contribution to the general community. Artists reported higher earning capacity and an increased ability to contribute to arts and non-arts communities.

Artists supplementing their artistic income showed a change in focus from employment traditionally considered the artists’ option for additional income (e.g. call centres, customer service, hospitality, retail etc). These employment options had, until their participation in SCOPE, become their primary sources of income at the completion of their artistic careers. SCOPE changed this focus by building new skills, confidence and opportunities for participating artists.

Ausdance National continues to lobby governments for funds to reintroduce the scholarship and mentoring services.