‘Don’t be arts job cheats’ employers told
A new toolkit aims to remove socio-economic barriers to jobs in the arts sector that are causing a class crisis.
Too many feel excluded from the cultural careers they want because starting jobs are given unadvertised to chosen individuals, and many are unpaid so that aspirants need private sources of income.
The guide has been devised by Jerwood Arts and the Bridge Group, a non-profit consultancy researching social equality, aimed at encouraging employers to advertise jobs in community centres and pay for internships of more than four weeks. It also wants them to use plain language in their advertisements rather than arts jargon which might alienate those not versed in it.
“Improving equality, diversity and inclusion across the arts is key to releasing the true potential of our nation’s artistic and cultural talent, and it starts with entry level roles like those created by our programme” write Kate Danielson, director of the Weston Jerwood Creative Bursaries, and Lilli Geissendorfer, director of Jerwood Arts, in their foreword to the report. “Only a more representative sector at all levelswill ensure that in future, the art that gets made is not just outstanding in form andcontent, but relevant to the widest possible audiences.
“Evaluation of our work has given us a unique view on what does and doesn’t work in recruiting those from lower socio-economic backgrounds, and the toolkit shares what we now know” Geissendorfer added. “We hope it will help anyone with the power to appoint and promote to make strategic changes to embed inclusive practices and make the arts more excellent for all.”
Socio-economic Diversity and Inclusion in the Arts: A Toolkit for Employers draws from experiences on the 2010-founded Weston Jerwood Creative Bursaries programme’s decade of working with employers, combined with the Bridge Group’s research on increasing socio-economic diversity in the workplace and fostering inclusive and enabling organisational cultures.
It features case studies from arts employers and argues that socio-economic backgrounds should be given the same consideration as ethnicity, disability, gender and other “protected characteristics” which are legally protected from discrimination.
There are five key recommendations for employers: publish information on socio-economic diversity; avoid alienating words such as “disadvantage” and “privilege”; create more inclusive work cultures; end unpaid work; change recruitment processes to obviate obstacles and barriers.
“We want to make sure that the people who create artistic work and run cultural organisations are representative of the way that England looks and feels today – and the same is true for audiences too” said Darren Henley, CEO of the Arts Council, which supports the initiative. “Our investment in this new toolkit is a step in helping this to happen – but there is still much to do.”