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Chris McCrudden @cmccrudden
, 37 tweets, 15 min read Read on Twitter

So the always amazing @DrDaveOBrien @markrt & @OrianBrook have dropped 44 pages worth of receipts on the Creative Industries attitudes to:

🔹Social class
🔹Cultural taste

Hold me, I'm going in.…
Inequality in the arts can feel like a trivial issue. I mean, the arts are the fluffy stuff of life, right?


The arts are how we see ourselves reflected in culture, so...

🔹The unrepresented go unseen.
🔹The over-represented. assume their experience is 'universal;
Also, props to @DrDaveOBrien, @markrt & @OrianBrook for adopting an inter-sectional approach.

The default assumption that 'working class' is indivisible from white maleness needs deconstructing, and fast.
1. Are the cultural industries meritocratic?

If you ask culture industry workers how they got where they are today. They'll say it was talent and hard work.

The idea that the arts are a meritocracy is deeply-held. People want to believe they earned their position.
That graph is based on a survey of 2.5k culture sector workers conducted in 2015.

It shows a strong belief that talent, hard work and ambition are more important than wealth, gender, religion, class or ethnic grouping.
But it's more interesting to look at who believes what...

The people most likely to believe you're rewarded for hard work & ambition are white.

The people who earn the most £££ in the arts are most likely to think they got their high salaries solely on merit.

The voices who dissented from this meritocratic view were the people MOST LIKELY to have directly experienced structural disadvantage (i.e. disabled, non-white etc).

So the next time a senior white person says "I don't see colour/gender" show them the receipts.
This quote is 🔥🔥 because it crystallises what I call 'soft exclusion'.

In the arts the playing field is only level for people who have the social polish of the white middle classes.

Why? Because it makes the inexperienced, shy or unconnnected look less competent.
2. Do people in the arts live in a middle-class bubble?

This graph shows what the social networks of cultural workers look like. It answers @KitdeWaal's question of why culture stifles working-class voices.

The people who *produce* culture don't know them.
The research forwards a disturbing hypothesis.

The cultural sector believes in the idea of merit, but not in structural privilege.


On to part 2...
On the exclusion of the working classes,,,,

This quote speaks to me. I've often been accused of 'chippiness' because I objected to some Toby in red trousers failing upwards because his penis went to Harrow.
The biggest barrier to better representation in culture is WHO works in culture.

We get default white male middle-class culture because the people who decide what we read and watch are white, male and middle-class.

Read these graphs and weep.
Of all cultural sectors ONLY publishing achieves a near balance of gender, but that masks a massive problem in the industry with class.

Only 11% of people in publishing come from a working-class background.

This is before we talk about the pay penalties of entering a creative job as a working class candidate.

People of working class origins get paid less.

And the distorting effect that London has on the UK cultural sector.

London cultural orgs & businesses employ more BAME workers than those in the rest of the UK, but they're still substantially under-represented.
This research supports the hypothesis that the arts has a with because the people who work in it don't SEE inequality.
Now.. part 3.

This research dismantles an important prevailing myth: that there was a golden age of social mobility in the arts.

Someone at the back is going to mention grammar schools and I will...
This graphic shows the % of young people working in arts in 1981 & 2011.

The blunt numbers tell a forceful (BUT INACCURATE) story. That opportunities for working class people have decreased in the last 40 years.
Between 1981 & 2011 British society changed substantially.

(I actually write about this period & phenomenon in @KitdeWaal's upcoming anthology for @unbounders 'Common People'.

In these 30 years the British working class shrank & the middle class expanded.
If you look beyond the numbers, the chances of a working class candidate getting a culture sector job STAYED THE SAME between 1981 and 2011.

40 years of stasis is nothing to be proud of.
Since we're on the subject of how one enters a cultural profession, it's time to talk about one of my favourite subjects.

I often hear the phrase "that's just the way it is" when it comes to unpaid internships.

Look at these numbers though.

Unpaid internships are a recent development. People in leadership positions now probably didn't have to do one.
I find it really disturbing that the narrative that surrounds getting an arts job is one of SUFFERING and SACRIFICE, because that works to reinforce structural disadvantage.

The only people who can afford to participate are the people who don't need to make a living.
The last section of the report explores how 'representative' are the views, habits & tastes of the creative class.

(TL;DR because the industries operate as an 'elite' they exhibit elitist behaviours.)
The idea that the arts are full of 'lefties' is a cliche.

But cliches also have the nasty habit of being true.

People working in the arts express the most left-wing worldview of any sector.
This is such an interesting paradox.

People in the arts say they're left-wing. And YET they...

🔹Work & socialise in homogenous groups
🔹Mistake structural privilege for individual merit
🔹Believe unpaid work is an inevitable 1st step on the professional ladder
I call this the 'well-meaning' problem.

Despite being full of people who are 'all for equality' the arts can never seem to solve its racist, sexist and classist problems.

Because it can't acknowledge them. Because working in the arts makes you ipso facto a good person.
But solving your inequality problems is about more than attending a diversity panel once a year and saying "it's terrible, something must be done".

To effect change you have to...
So we know that the arts industries operate as a self-regulating elite.

But what impact does this have on our culture? It's important because these are the people who *decide* what our culture looks like.

Let's look at national arts participation.
Numbers like these are why bodies like @ace_national put so much emphasis on widening access.

Culture may be the stuff of life for people in the know. Yet for many people it's a literal unicorn.
This graph is hard to read, but what it shows is that the art forms that loom largest in cultural life (opera, ballet, dance, book events...) and receive the highest public subsidies.

Have the smallest audiences.
As an aside, though that data point about book events is a big slap in the face for anyone (and many have tried) trying to build a business out of the 'untapped' market for book-based events.
This graphic is a real kicker.

You know that elite that works in the arts, gatekeeping who works in them and what they produce?

You know who consumes the vast quantity of that production.

They do.
I tweet a lot about the problem of diversity within publishing in particular and the arts in general.

It isn't just because I like a moan. It's because I love the arts, but I see them losing cultural relevance, because they hold up a mirror to an unreal world.
The arts industry in the UK is a Narcissus.

Narcissus was so in love with his own reflection that he forgot to eat, or drink, or move. So he died.

This report is a warning. I hope people in the right places hear that warning and act on it.
And that's all I have to say about this today! Please read the report! It's an important piece of work.

Thanks for reading.
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