A closer look at our new research findings
For the first time since 2012, we have released new data analysing the demographics of the creative and cultural workforce across the UK. Programme Director Sara Whybrew considers how we can use this data to create a more diverse sector, and why an in-depth breakdown is so important.
At our National Conference on 1 April, we will be exploring the barriers to entry into our sector, and the barriers which stop people from thriving within it. Understanding these barriers is the only way that we can begin to break them down, so that we can create a truly diverse and representative sector.
We invite all those who are working to build a more accessible cultural sector to join us as we set ambitious goals for the future, using evidence-based research as the strong foundation on which we place our future strategy.
On 12 February 2019 we launched new workforce data, which compares the characteristics of the arts and cultural workforce with the total UK workforce at national, country and regional levels. It’s been seven years since we last released statistics of this kind, and we wanted to see how the creative landscape had changed in that time.
It’s been seven years since we last released statistics of this kind, and we wanted to see how the creative landscape had changed in that time.
Creative & Cultural Skills’ mission is to build a cultural sector which is truly representative of our society. We champion non-traditional progression routes into and through our workforce, including apprenticeships. We campaign for fair access and pay, working to eradicate the sector’s elitist recruitment practices.
Collecting accurate, detailed data on our sector allows us to set realistic benchmarks for improving workforce diversity, supporting growth and better understanding where the barriers might currently be that are preventing inclusivity.
The full picture
There is quite of lot of data already available on our sector’s workforce, but often this data covers the whole of the creative industries. This can lead to misleading results, so we wanted to break things down further, to look at how our sector is really operating.
Our data concentrates solely on our footprint: design, craft, performing arts, music, literature, cultural heritage, and the visual arts. It breaks down the total number of people working across this footprint and then extracts the proportion that work in occupations classed as ‘creative’. In other words, those occupations that are inherent or unique to these individual sub sectors.
The analysis also examines our economic contribution and the distribution of creative and cultural businesses by employment size-band. As well as the make-up of the sector by age, declared disability, ethnicity, the number of part time workers, the gender balance, the proportion that are self-employed, qualification attainment levels and average hourly wage.
All of our data can be cut by English region, nation or the UK as a whole and can be compared across the same geography to the broader working population.
Key findings – demographics
Our research has found that women make up 47 per cent of the creative workforce across the UK. The east of England is the only area that has an equal gender split across our industry, with Yorkshire & Humber presenting the lowest proportion of female representation at 40 per cent. In most cases female representation in the cultural sector is below that of the wider economy, except in Scotland where women represent 51 per cent of the sector.
Only 2 per cent of the cultural sector is made up of 16-19 year olds, compared to 3.2 per cent in the rest of the working population.
Only 2 per cent of the cultural sector is made up of 16-19 year olds, compared to 3.2 per cent in the rest of the working population. This is actually an improvement by 1 per cent since we last collated this data in 2012.
13 per cent of the creative workforce identifies as having a disability. While this is lower than the proportion of the population identifying as having a disability in society (20 per cent), the overall picture is a little more complicated. In Scotland, Wales, the North West, Yorkshire, West Midlands and the South West those with a disability are proportionally better represented in the cultural industries than the rest of the economy in the same locations.
Key findings – cultural organisations
It will come as no surprise to anyone that the majority of cultural organisations are micro-businesses; 83 per cent across the UK have less than 5 employees each. 37 per cent of all cultural businesses are in London, with the least number in the North East, home to only 1.6 per cent.
Our data shows that 38 per cent of the cultural sector across the UK is self-employed. The nation with the highest proportion is Wales at 43 per cent and the English region with the highest proportion is the South West at 49 per cent. This is still more than twice as many or in some regions three times as many as the rest of the working population.
Some of the surprising information to come out of the research surrounds pay. Wages are generally thought to be low in the cultural sector compared to other industries, but this seems to be dependent on where you’re working. The average hourly wage for the UK’s whole working population is £14.77 an hour, while for the cultural sector is actually £16.29 an hour. In London, you’ll earn on average £19.48 an hour if you work in our sector compared to £18.63 for the rest of the working population there. Whereas in the North East you’ll earn on average £10.77 in our sector, whilst the rest of the working population there earns £12.96.
What does this mean?
A regional breakdown allows us to be more realistic about the kinds of changes we need to see in order to create a sector which is truly representative of its local population; and to ensure that employment conditions are diverse enough to attract a wide range of recruits.
For instance, only 9 per cent of the cultural workforce as a whole is made up of those from a BAME background, compared to 12 per cent of the UK’s entire working population. However, if we were to suggest that all areas use 12 per cent as a benchmark it could be counter-productive, and not necessarily lead to the development of a truly representative sector.
Breaking things down further, by industry, area and demographics, allows us to see where we are really lacking as a sector.
For example, in the South West and the North East data shows low levels of BAME representation, which paints the picture that the cultural sector here is falling short. However, only 4 per cent of the entire working population in these regions are from a BAME background, meaning that the creative industries are relatively reflective of that area’s population.
London, on the other hand, has a much higher creative workforce identifying as BAME, at 18 per cent. But when we look closer, and compare this to total workforce statistics, we can see that London is woefully underrepresented. 35 per cent of the total London workforce identifies as BAME.
Breaking things down further, by industry, area and demographics, allows us to see where we are really lacking as a sector. It is vital that when setting goals we reach higher where we should, without placing unrealistic targets for those facing different challenges.
How to use this data
Our data analysis has been presented as an interactive dashboard on our website, and we want you to use it.
You may be developing place-based strategies for the sector, developing training courses to ensure we give people the skills they need or just setting new targets for your own organisation.
We should be bold and radical and use research as the legitimiser of what we’re doing.
Compare and analyse the findings to inform your work and create realistic targets and goals for your area and your industry. Share it with colleagues, and others in the industry, and consider how the findings may challenge your own perception of what the cultural sector really looks like today.
As Creative & Cultural Skills CEO Simon Dancey said at our research launch, “We can only change the sector we work in through partnership working and collective action
“I think we should be bold and radical and use research as the legitimiser of what we’re doing.”