Focus groups with young people
We conducted focus groups in July 2018 in order to gain first person accounts of the experiences that young individuals face upon entering and progressing in the creative and cultural industries. Prior to each discussion, an overview of the project was given and written consent was obtained. Additionally, names have been removed for confidentiality purposes. Table 4 shows a demographic summary of the focus group participants:
To measure class, we asked participants whether they had received free school meals, whether their family lived in council housing and if they are receiving any housing benefits (or their parents if living at home). This is just one way to measure social class (and probably conservative), along with for instance the UK’s Labour Force Survey National Statistics Socioeconomic Classification (NS-SEC).
Our first group of participants were recruited through a call issued on Centre for London’s social media accounts. We were looking for young people aged 16-34 who are from BAME and/or working class backgrounds, and/or women who were already employed in the cultural industries, those who were unemployed, and those still studying. Five participants took part in the focus group (Table 5).
Our second round of group discussion involved former members of the Whitechapel Gallery youth forum Duchamp & Sons, located in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets. This is a collaborative programme for 15- 21 year-olds that offers the opportunity for participants to engage with creative professionals and open up the prospect of embarking on a creative career. Five young people took part in the focus group (Table 6).
Our third round of group discussions involved Creative Opportunity Programme participants, a London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC) programme designed and delivered in partnership with Sadler’s Wells and A New Direction. This is a two-week workshop that enables members to gain first-hand exposure to London’s creative industries. 14 participants were in attendance, ranging from ages 18-30 and were un or under-employed (i.e. not currently working in the creative sector) residents of Hackney, Tower Hamlets, Waltham Forest, and Newham boroughs (Table 7).
Focus group content
The aim of the focus groups was to explore the importance of various forms of capital in accessing education, getting a job or progressing in the sector. They lasted between 60 and 90 minutes, beginning with introductions and then divided into four sections. The first section looked at participants’ experiences within the further and higher education system in pursuit of a creative career and the extent to which it facilitated entry into the cultural industries. This was followed by a discussion about the job search post-education, their experiences in applying for creative jobs, and the uptake of internships. The next section focused on the barriers to entry that participants have experienced and consequently highlighted, while the final section allowed them to offer solutions to the Mayor of London on how representation in the cultural industries can be met.
The questionnaire was structured in order to understand the barriers at different life stages, namely:
- Getting into cultural courses at higher education level.
- Getting a first job in the cultural sector.
- Progressing in the cultural sector.
We recognise that the possibility of choosing cultural subjects at GCSE or A Levels influences opportunities; however, engagement with schools was difficult to achieve within the scope of this research. Nevertheless, we included a reference to this in the focus group questionnaire, and outline in more detail the impact of the lack of arts funding on the cultural capital of young people (see Chapter 5).
Interviews with employers
We spoke to employers in different sub-sectors of the cultural industries, ranging from broadcasters, museums and galleries to theatre companies and music venues. Our aim was to gain a general understanding of the actions currently taken to enhance representation in their organisations. Questions focused on recruitment practices, ways of identifying new talent and the obstacles faced in doing so, as well as engagement with educational institutions. This followed questions about barriers to ensuring a workforce representative of London, and proposed solutions to the problem. For the purposes of confidentiality, the names of employers have been removed.
Roundtable with educational institutions
A roundtable was held at Centre for London with representatives from several further and higher education institutions in culture and the arts, including Ravensbourne, Goldsmiths, University of the Arts London, University College London, and New City College Tower Hamlets.
Preliminary findings were presented initially, and in the first half of the session we discussed current outreach initiatives to widen participation in the arts as well as post-education support mechanisms. The second half of the session focused on the successes and challenges of engagement with employers in the cultural industries, as well as evidence of barriers to progression through the industry for students.