‘Pay interns’ London culture employers told

London’s creative industries are guilty of serious failings in diversity, allowing poorer, black and ethnic minority and working class young talents to slip by the wayside.

A report from the independent think-tank Centre for London, Culture Club: Social Mobility in the Creative and Cultural Industries by the centre’s Victoria Pinoncely and Mario Washington-Ihieme, wants employers and educators in the capital to create a mentoring programme, “focussing recruitment practices on talent, not networks”, and calls on London’s cultural and creative employers to pay interns at least the minimum wage. https://www.centreforlondon.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/Report-Culture-Club-Digital.pdf

Main image shows The Roundhouse Choir, by Ellie Pinney

“Too many young people are locked out of the opportunities in London’s creative industries” said Washington-Ihieme.“Sadly, it is still who you know, not what you know, that counts. And being unable to afford unpaid internships or unstable freelance work makes it harder still to get a job in the sector.

“Ultimately, if people in positions of power continue to hire people who are predominantly ‘like’ them, the creative industries will continue to miss out. London’s culture club needs to open its doors.”

Class and ethnicity too often determine a young person’s success in getting work in London’s creative and cultural industries, with women also underrepresented in senior jobs, the research finds, showing that the creative sector has failed to diversify its workforce, despite significant job growth since 2012.

While the number of jobs in the sector in London increased by 24% between 2012 and 2016, people from BAME groups, 40% of the capital’s population, accounted for only 23% of the creative workforce. The report, supported by the Swarovski Foundation, finds that the number of London jobs in the creative and cultural industries – which includes everything from graphic designers to producers, and from artists to photographers – increased by 24 per cent between 2012 and 2016. But people from Black Asian Minority Ethnic (BAME) groups, who form 40 per cent of London’s population, accounted for just 23% of employees in the sector in 2016, and provided just 14% in senior positions. Men account for 70% of managers, directors and senior officials in the sector. 

Some, such as the London Transport Museum and the Roundhouse, have recognised the sector needs to change, the report allows, and have introduced schemes to support young people to access jobs and training,but more needs to be done to ensure other businesses follow their lead.

“London is a world cultural capital and the creative industries are vital to our city’s success – contributing £47bn to the UK economy and accounting for one in six jobs in London” said London’s deputy mayor for culture and the creative industries, Justine Simons. “Despite this, data clearly shows that the creative sector is falling short in reflecting the diversity of our city.

“Our diversity is a strength and London is overflowing with creative talent – but we can’t allow it to be locked out, we must make sure Londoners from all backgrounds are able to access the creative career opportunities on offer.”


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