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Arts Council England invests in underserved areas

The organisation aims to tackle problems with classism in the creative industries

Arts Council England is tackling inaccessibility for working class people trying to break into the creative industries by investing in underserved communities across the country.

According to the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport the creative sector contributed £109 billion to the UK economy, but only 7.9% of people that work in this sector are from a working-class background, according to a 2022 study by the Office for National Statistics.  

One of the main barriers for the working class is lack of investment into lower socio-economic areas, that hinders class mobility.  With the creative industry being difficult to access, it is not easy to get your foot in the door.

Annum Mohammed, a 22-year-old stylist from Manchester says: “I didn’t know things like my peers, I didn’t know what an invoice was, I had never heard of certain designer brands, and I was looked down upon for it when I first started.” 

One way to bridge this barrier is through funding and creating access to technology, resources and education. Arts Council England has identified 54 priority places in England where, historically, public investment in creativity and culture has been low, to navigate where investment is needed.

“We have increased our investment by 95% – focusing our funding in areas that have previously been underserved. We want arts and cultural organisations to fully reflect the communities they serve,” says communications officer for ACE, Sarah Deen.

“We know there are barriers to entry into the sector for working class people, and we’re committed to changing this – and that starts with getting the right data. We are asking organisations in our 2023-26 portfolio to provide information on the socio-economic background of their staff, as part of our commitment to make sure that the creative and cultural sector is more representative of England.”

It plans to give priority places outside of London with £43.5 million in investment each year to help create accessibility for working class people and encourage them to have a career in the arts. 

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