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Social Mobility Commission Socio-Economic Diversity and Inclusion Toolkit: Creative Industries, 2021.

Social Mobility Commission launch Creative Industries Toolkit

07 October 2021

Weston Jerwood Creative Bursaries has supported the Social Mobility Commission to produce a toolkit offering tailored advice for the creative industries. The aim is to enable employers to tackle the “class crisis” in the creative industries and widen access to people from low socio-economic backgrounds.

free webinar will take place on Monday 11 October at 1pm to launch the toolkit with a discussion on the importance of socio-economic inclusion within the creative industries. We are proud that Della Hill, alum of the 2017-2019 edition of the Weston Jerwood Creative Bursaries programme and until recently Creative Lead at Literature Wales, will be part of the panel at this launch event.

The Commission, which works to address social mobility on behalf of the UK Government, developed the toolkit in partnership with organisations from across the creative industries. It offers practical support and guidance on how to identify and remove invisible barriers that arise during the employee journey.

According to research set out in the toolkit, 52% of those working in creative industry sectors are from high socio-economic backgrounds, compared to just 27% from working class backgrounds. The toolkit identifies the high numbers of ‘professional’ jobs within the sector (those requiring qualifications) and reliance on freelancers and self-employment as barriers to class diversity, along with the prevalence of unpaid internships. The geography of the sector, with more than half of all creative organisations operating from London or the south-east, presents a further challenge to people from less-privileged backgrounds.

Huw Penson, the commission’s senior campaign manager, said:

“Putting an emphasis on socio-economic diversity within the workforce has been shown to have a demonstrable impact on the productivity of businesses across a range of sectors, and prioritising this issue could see a huge return for those creative employers willing to take the necessary steps. The SMC’s new toolkit for the creative industry includes recommendations tailored to creative sector employers which will help you to refine your policies around recruitment, progression, and outreach, as well as the steps you can take to build an inclusive culture.”

Kate Danielson, Director of Weston Jerwood Creatives Bursaries, is quoted in the Toolkit:

“This Toolkit offers a very clear challenge to all of us working in the arts and creative industries – we need to get ahead in attracting the best talent and ensuring they thrive – and to do this we need to change the way we recruit, the way we structure progression and our internal cultures. This resource guides you every step of the way – from baby to big steps and provides great examples of what has worked for others in our sector.“

The toolkit is available on the Social Mobility Commission website.

Jerwood Arts is committed to supporting the development of artists from low socio-economic backgrounds and improving social mobility within the sector.

The Weston Jerwood Creative Bursaries Programme supports 50 salaried jobs in arts and cultural organisations across the UK, for individuals from low socio-economic backgrounds. The programme is dedicated to supporting outstanding early-career artists, curators, producers and creatives to thrive, and working in partnership with leading arts and cultural organisations to take an inclusive, intersectional approach to recruitment, artist development and organisational change.

In July 2019, Jerwood Arts and the Bridge Group joined forces to publish Socio-Economic Diversity and Inclusion in the Arts: A Toolkit for Employers to share some of the practical ideas from the Weston Jerwood Creative Bursaries programme, alongside case studies from the programme’s Host organisations.

Jerwood Arts also launched a new pilot scheme this week to provide curatorial and leadership development for early-career visual arts curators from low socio-economic backgrounds. The 12-month Jerwood Curatorial Accelerator programme will support a cohort of curators through dedicated mentoring, training, and research; working with eight host organisations to introduce them to artistic networks across the UK. Jerwood Arts will appoint host organisations over autumn 2021 and select fellows in spring 2022.

Organisations interested in being part of the pilot programme are invited to get in touch via info@jerwoodarts.org.