Over 2020-2022, the Weston Jerwood Creative Bursaries programme has supported 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.
Fair access to working in the arts and cultural sector remains an urgent issue, with those from 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 seeks 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.
Since September 2020, the 50 participating organisations have been part of a network and taking part in a digital organisational change programme led by our partners, people make it work. The group has heard from specialist speakers, taken part in group discussions and connected with past Host organisations and alumni. The programming of these sessions has focused on supporting Hosts to design their own inclusive recruitment campaigns for their Fellowships, and to consider approaches to embedding long-term organisational and sector change.
Since January 2021 we have also been working with each of the 51 Fellows who have been recruited into artistic and creative roles within the organisations. As the Fellows cohort has grown they have also taken part in their own digital programme led by people make it work, as well as being connected to the Jerwood Arts team for support. The Fellows each have funding for a dedicated mentor supported by Arts Emergency, and will have access to a range of progression support as they come 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