If you thought you were just bouncing from gig to gig, juggling multiple part-time or limited-term jobs in the arts and elsewhere, or just patching together a living from a seemingly diffuse bundle of clients, employers, and projects, you may not have realized that you were engaging in the job strategy of the future, the portfolio career. The phrase and the concept seem to be popping up in organizational theory circles as a way of capturing an age-old practice that’s becoming an emerging trend.
The ”portfolio worker,” defined by organizational and management theorist Charles Handy a few decades ago, doesn’t work for a single company, but rather gathers a ”portfolio” of jobs around a common theme or skill set, and balances that portfolio much like an investor manages a bundle of stocks.
I’ve been using the phrase a lot lately, as it describes both the reality of so much cultural work, but also the tension and intention of managing such complex working relationships. We’ve seen lots of evidence lately that policy-makers don’t consider portfolio jobs to be ”real jobs” (which are defined, it seems, as permanent, persistent employment opportunities). Further, our career counseling for creative professionals, and our training for prospective professionals in higher education, does little to engage the challenge.
Anyone know of an organization or a research cluster that’s specifically looking at this issue in the arts? Would love to know who already knows about it.