Despite London being a rich, diverse tapestry of people, classes and cultures, it’s sadly a well-known fact that the city’s creative industry – as is the case across the UK – is not a reflection of this.
Access to accommodation (not to mention food transport and, apparently, a well-heeled social life) while hopefully clinging to endless unpaid internships is something the bank of Mum and Dad often funds, and it’s not one many of us have an account with.
There’s also the issue of exclusivity – the creative world can sometimes seem like a closed shop, full of intimidating images and language – which is a barrier to entry. At a really basic level, some young people just simply aren’t told about the breadth of careers out there in the world.
All this feeds into a severe lack of diversity in the creative sphere, but a social enterprise in Hackney is trying to combat it.
Pitch It!, made up of education and arts sector experts, believes that a young person’s background should not limit their aspirations or ability to compete in London’s creative economy, especially those classified as “NEET”: “Not in Education, Employment or Training”.
Established in 2013, the team has worked with creative professionals from a spectrum of industries – photography, film, journalism, fashion, design, music – to provide equal access to these sorts of careers, to over 70 students across London.
Next Thursday, Pitch It! will host a discussion about the innovative approaches that can be used to increase diversity in the sector. It will be chaired by a programme mentor and mentee, Kitt Proudfoot and Ameer, to give participants insight into the Pitch It! experience.
The panel will include:
Teo Connor Co-founder, W Project, talking about supporting gender equality
Robin Wight Director, WCRS and Founder, Ideas Foundation, giving his perspective on broadening the recruitment pipeline in the creative industries
Hackney 100 A local ‘into employment’ initiative providing placements for young people in local businesses
Laura Whitticase Arts Division, Barbican, outlining elitism in the arts and the need to make arts funding more accessible
Isabel Farchy, Pitch It! co-founder, said: “Despite creative industry growth, a rising tide doesn’t seem to be floating all boats. Many London boroughs with a flourishing creative economy – Hackney being one example – have a NEET population of over 20%.
The industry is seen as hard to break into because of a lack of access to a network of ‘the right people’ who can act as ‘gatekeepers’ and role models. On top of this, the lack of clear ‘routes’ into employment is off-putting to young people who may be risk averse due to lack of financial security.”
Pitch It! provides students with opportunities to learn about the different careers available, but also gain an understanding of the world of work through practical experience.
The team also builds networks of professionals usually inaccessible to these young people, and supports them in developing ‘soft skills’, such as confidence and resilience, that are essential in the workplace.