From 2020 to 2022, the Weston Jerwood Creative Bursaries programme supported 50 salaried jobs in arts and cultural organisations across the UK, for individuals from working class/low socio-economic backgrounds. The programme was dedicated to supporting outstanding early-career artists, curators, producers, and creatives to thrive, and worked in partnership with leading arts and cultural organisations to take an inclusive and intersectional approach to recruitment, artist development, and organisational change.
The programme identified fair access to working in the arts and cultural sector as an urgent issue, with those from working class/low socio-economic backgrounds still significantly under-represented amongst the artists and employees of UK theatres, festivals, galleries, and arts organisations of all kinds. The programme sought to interrogate and remove barriers to entry and enable those on the programme – the ‘Fellows’ – to build careers in the arts with confidence and support.
From September 2020, the 50 Host Organisations were part of a network and took part in a digital organisational development programme led by people make it work. The group heard from specialist speakers, took part in group discussions, and connected with past Host Organisations and Alumni. The programming of these sessions focused on supporting Host Organisations to design their own inclusive recruitment campaigns for their Fellowships and to consider approaches to embedding long-term organisational and sector change.
From January 2021, 51 Fellows were recruited into artistic and creative roles within the Host Organisations. As the Fellows cohort grew, they also took part in their own digital programme led by people make it work, alongside support from the Jerwood Arts team. The Fellows each had funding for a dedicated mentor supported by Arts Emergency, and access to a range of progression support as they came to the end of their Fellowship year in the first half of 2022.
You can read the latest research on socio-economic inclusion in the arts in the following reports co-authored by our academic adviser to the WJCB programme, Dr Dave O’Brien:
Heather Carey, Dr Dave O’Brien, Dr Olivia Gable, Creative Industries Policy and Evidence Centre (PEC) led by Nesta, Report, September 2021: Social mobility in the creative economy: Rebuilding and levelling up?
Creative Industries Policy and Evidence Centre (PEC) News Item, September 2021: The UK’s Creative Industries would need to employ 250,000 more working-class people to be as socio economically diverse as the rest of the economy
Natalie Wreyford, Dave O’Brien, Tamsyn Dent, Report for the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Creative Diversity, September 2021: Creative Majority: An APPG for Creative Diversity report on ‘What Works’ to support, encourage and improve diversity, equity and inclusion in the creative sector