Rant 43: The Creative Industries - just for rich kids?

Rant 43: The Creative Industries - just for rich kids? Chloe Brooks, Captain of Industry, 2011. Reclaimed hardboard, timber, orange emulsion paint and grey gloss paint. 900cm x 450cm x 950cm. Credit: Chloe Brooks

Are the Creative Industries just for rich kids? Is working in the arts just for white, upper middle-class people? Becky Hunter argues that this is not the case, but that more needs to be done to encourage a truly diverse creative sector.

Massive budget cuts have already sent a chilly shockwave 'through the arts world’

Now, an independent survey reveals more difficult truths for aspiring creatives, this time regarding relationships between wealth and career progression.

According to the poll commissioned by national charity Creativity, Culture and Education (CCE), most parents are supportive of their children entering a creative field, and 35% are well-connected enough to assist them in finding internships or in networking with friends and family in the business – perpetuating a white, well-heeled, upper-middle class arts sector.

CCE’s chief executive Paul Collard is committed to tackling the problem: ‘Creative Partnerships… helps to introduce children to a range of creative professionals’, aiming ‘to support interested young people, no matter what their background, to get a foot in the door.’ 

Given the huge impact of early-life experiences, empowering children to see a creative career as a viable option makes sense. 

I come from a working/lower middle class background in the deprived North-East of England, with no family career network. 

Encouragement from teachers and visiting artists throughout comprehensive school skyrocketed my creative confidence and – feeling utterly entitled – I entered Chelsea College of Art and Design, a top London art school. 

While role model artists of the YBA generation, such as Gillian Wearing, embraced working class roots, at Chelsea I found myself one of a tiny percentage of non-privately educated students. 

Unprepared for the necessary social adjustments, my artwork suffered, as did my mental health. 

Sob story aside, here is my point: the creative industries are certainly not just for rich kids. 

The door must be flung wide open to people from all communities. 

Yet, if we don’t prepare deprived young people for the often alien, affluent atmosphere they will encounter in the arts, progress will not be made.

Contributed by Becky Hunter

Becky Hunter is an art historian (in training) and and a freelance writer on contemporary art.


The views expressed in The Rant are those of Becky Hunter and forum contributors and unless specifically stated are not those of Axisweb. See our terms and conditions


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