Mentoring as affective practice

Taylor, S. and Luckman, S. (2024). Mentoring as affective practice. International Journal of Cultural Policy pp. 1–14.



This paper discusses the potential contributions that an arts mentoring program can make to the support of artists and creative practitioners contending with the challenges of the post-pandemic creative sector. In so doing, it also considers possible criticisms of the efficacy of arts mentoring, given the uncertainty and precariousness that characterise careers in the cultural sector. To explore these ideas, the paper presents an analysis of interview data from research on a recent arts mentoring program in Australia. Utilising the concept of ‘affective practice’ from critical discursive psychology, the paper argues that the benefits of mentoring go beyond practical contributions like skills guidance or ‘gate opening’ by mentors. Additionally, a mentoring program can function as a site in which the ‘feeling experiences’ that derive from the cultural and personal associations of a creative or artistic practice can be reinforced, through the program itself and through the relationship between mentor and mentee, potentially strengthening artistic and creative activities and their practitioners, and thereby perpetuating the survival and growth of contemporary art worlds.

Plain Language Summary

How can mentoring help artists and creative practitioners? This paper presents evidence from qualitative research with participants in an Australian arts mentoring programme. Previous research has found that mentoring can provide practical benefits like guidance in new skills or introductions to influential people. This paper argues that mentoring can also reinforce the 'feeling experiences' of creative practices, with benefits for the practitioners themselves and also, on a wider scale, for contemporary art worlds. The research adopts an analytic approach from critical discursive psychology. The findings are relevant to social psychologists, researchers investigating creativity and the contemporary creative industries, and researchers interested in qualitative analysis of interview data.

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