London is famous for being a hub for talent and creativity. The creative sector is a major engine of the UK economy: prior to COVID-19, it was worth £52bn each year. However, the creative industries don't offer the same opportunities for everyone, and those from BAME and low income backgrounds can face significant barriers to building creative careers.
Research shows that whilst BAME groups make up 40% of London's population, they make up just 23% of the creative sector workforce. Covid-19 has further impacted this, with young people from the low income and ethnic minority backgrounds most at risk of losing employment in the sector, or of never getting a chance to begin with.
Our Strategic Partner, the Mayor's Fund for London, has launched a Manifesto for Change which aims to change that. Based on conversations with young people, schools, charities and employers, it provides practical recommendations for a more inclusive creative sector, where young people from all backgrounds can access opportunities and thrive.
· Increasing engagement between creative sector employers and schools;
· Taking action to bring creative industry role models from diverse backgrounds into schools and colleges;
· Make sure existing schemes, including apprenticeships, operate effectively within the creative sector to bring more diverse skills and talent into the industry;
· Invest in more diverse recruitment and progression pathways to ensure opportunities are accessible and aspirational for all young people;
· Promote socio-economic background and ethnicity pay gap reporting across the industry.
Through our six year partnership with the Mayor's Fund we have met hundreds of diverse, talented, creative young people seeking careers in the arts. Our funding supports Creativity Works, a 12 week programme which uses the power of the arts to tackle high levels of youth unemployment. 70% of the young people taking part in the programme successfully move on into employment, education or training.
Rachael Simões - a former Creativity Works trainee and host of 'Creative FAQ', a new podcast for creative young people, says: "Race and class disparities have shaped all sectors in London and the creative industries are no different. People of colour feel discouraged to enter the creative industries due to an industry wide lack of representation. It takes a lot to survive in a space where you are excluded or not made to feel welcomed. That's why it is so important to open the doors of the creative industry to everyone, in ways that aren't just 'symbolic'. Not just to who are those willing and able to undergo the discomfort of being the odd one out."