Over the past 6 months I've been writing a report for the AHRC on what it means to be working class and work within the creative industries.
I've been up and down the Country interviewing people from young people, artists, activists, mps, creatives and educators. Asking them about their connection with art, who they thought art was for and finding out if anyone could become an artist regardless of social class. My mission to build a picture of how people are currently feeling in the UK.
This all started a year ago when I was on the Clore Fellowship. What that meant was that I spent a year learning about cultural leadership. Over the year we were introduced to so many different leaders from politicians, directors, publishers, the head of MI5. It was mad.
What struck me over this year was how little of these people came from backgrounds like mine. Out of around 60 people I would say only a handful were educated in a state school. This bothered me.
I wanted to write this report to capture the essence of what it means to be a working class artist working in an industry that is dominated and run by those that come from wealthier background.
It's been a mad exploration, I've been questioning myself, my identity and the society I live in - a lot.
I go through stages of big questioning - thinking does any of this even matter. But of course it matters.
It matters because people don't see themselves on stage, in politics, in leadership roles.
It matters because people feel like they can't step into a place that doesn't feel like it belongs to them
It matters because people feel like to do well they have to be middle class, to be better
It matters because we're missing out on a whole section of society that feel unable to enter the arts
It matters because the people who have power are the ones who have money.
It matters because the politicians haven't got a clue beyond the Westminster bubble. They make choices like we all live in Kensington and Chelsea
It matters because until we see somebody who's been on free school meals, who's never been on holiday, never been anywhere, who wouldn't know how to walk around a gallery, until we seen them get into a leadership role then how can we believe that social responsibility and diversifying the arts is something that is meant.
I'll be sharing some of my findings tomorrow at Experimentica from 3:30pm with the support of Abbie Miola and Ali Goolyad.
We'd love to see you there!!
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