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Lucy Thraves

Assistant Editor

New paper highlights lack of social mobility in creative industries

1:50, 16th April 2018

Arts charities Create London and Arts Emergency have released a sociological paper demonstrating the significant lack of social mobility across arts and culture industries.

Entitled Panic! Social Class, Taste and Inequalities in the Creative Industries, the paper is led by the Universities of Edinburgh and Sheffield, and funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC).

It highlights the exclusions of those from working class origins, women, and those from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) backgrounds from industries including music, publishing, and advertising.

The research demonstrates that 2.7% of those who work in galleries and museums, 4.8% of those who work in music, and 4.2% of those who work in film are of BAME backgrounds (compared to just under 10% of the UK workforce overall). 12.6% of those who work in publishing are from working-class origins (compared to 35% of the workforce overall).

Drawing on evidence from the 2015 survey Panic!, the paper suggests that this is in part because cultural workers tend to be socially exclusive: they mainly know other creatives, to the exclusion of other occupations.

Furthermore, it is argued, the creative industries have been slow to respond to changes in policy and practice designed to tackle social inequality through unpaid and low-paid labour, including internships. Despite calls to restrict unpaid work, 90% of the Panic! survey’s respondents reported having worked for free.

The Panic! cultural programme has been set up to address some of these challenges. It will feature a report from Arts Emergency, aimed at garnering support for change among young people, parents, educational professionals, and the public.

In addition, the Barbican will convene In Focus, a platform for discussing social class with the cultural sector on 27 June. The Panic! report will act as a springboard for discussion and activities on topics such as meritocracy.

Hadrian Garrard, director of Create London, said, ‘We hope not to discourage nor shed a bad light on our beloved industries, but to open up doors and possibilities as to how we might make our industries more representative of and relevant to the population as a whole.’

The lead author of the paper, Dr David O’Brien, said, ‘Our analysis suggests that arts and media workers need to better understand the role of privilege in the formation of cultural tastes and success in creative employment, so that their industries can become more in touch with the rest of the population.’

The full report can be found here.

http://createlondon.org/

http://arts-emergency.org/

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