New survey investigates freelance creative practitioners and austerity

Posted by ap507 at Jun 30, 2016 11:50 AM |
University of Leicester research to focus on those ‘bearing the brunt’ of cuts to arts and cultural sector

Issued by University of Leicester Press Office on 30 June 2016

Arts organisations are adapting to austerity measures but the challenges of freelance arts and cultural workers have been overlooked despite making up a significant proportion of the arts sector workforce, according to University of Leicester researchers.

They are launching a new survey on Thursday 30 June to collect the experiences of the self-employed and those not in secure contracts within the arts, cultural and creative industries in the East Midlands to understand how austerity is affecting them, and what can be done to support them. 

The East Midlands Creative Practitioners Survey is the first ever survey to focus on freelancers that work in the arts, cultural and creative industries in the East Midlands. The survey is open to people working in any form of creative practice, including audio-visual, performing, literary and participatory arts. Everyone who fills out the survey will have the opportunity to enter a prize draw and win one of 4 prizes of £50 of high street vouchers.

While the arts, cultural and creative sectors are often portrayed as highly meritocratic, women, BAME people, disabled people, working class people and those with caring responsibilities are underrepresented. Funding cuts and the wider effects of austerity are impacting on artists and cultural workers in a range of ways, particularly those without secure contracts or stable sources of income. But these voices are rarely heard in mainstream debate.

The survey is part of the Creative Industries, Diversity and Austerity (CIDA) Project, a stream of research that is investigating the effects of austerity on the arts, cultural and creative industries workforce in the East Midlands. The research is supported by Attenborough Arts, The Mighty Creatives (TMC), the Arts Council England Bridge organisation, and a range of other groups in the region, and funded by a British Academy/Leverhulme Trust Research Grant. 

Dr Jack Newsinger, from the Department of Media and Communication, said: “CIDA builds on our previous research which looked at the effects of austerity on small arts organisations. We realised during that study that while organisations were demonstrating remarkable resilience to conditions of reduced funding, the freelance workforce – which makes up the majority of people who work in this sector – were bearing the brunt of the cuts.

“Our research seeks to represent the lived experience of creative lives under austerity, and how this is affecting access and participation.

“We know that the particular demands of short term contracts, long hours, networking, mobility and so on, can place barriers on the career development and aspirations of people from certain social groups – disabled people or those with caring responsibilities, for example.

“However, it is unlikely that initiatives to increase diversity that focus solely on organisations will be successful, and it is vital that we understand the effects of austerity on those people and groups already disadvantaged and marginalised. Part of being human is having the capacity for creative expression and this should be open to everyone, regardless of background.”

Dr Newsinger added: “The arts, cultural and creative sectors are culturally and economically vital to the region, yet little is known about the challenges that freelance creative practitioners face during these times of austerity, nor what could be done to support them. We want to change that.”


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