London’s creative and cultural industries and social mobility

We undertook new research to identify the barriers preventing young people from accessing jobs and training in London’s creative and cultural industries. We want to ensure that every young person can make the most of opportunities in the sector, regardless of their social background, ethnicity or gender.

London: a cultural hotbed

The creative industry is a significant contributor to London’s economy. In 2015 it accounted for 11 per cent of London’s total value of goods and services produced. The city has long been a magnet for young people pursuing a creative career. Productivity and wages remain particularly high in services such as TV, radio, film, photography, with 11.9 per cent of the capital’s total jobs concentrated in the creative industries.

Barriers to creativity

Despite the sector’s importance, recent research from the Greater London Authority highlighted that the creative industries are not open to or representative of all Londoners. In 2016 just under a fifth of employees in the industry were from Black Asian Ethnic Minority (BAME) groups compared to 77 per cent of White Ethnic groups.

The sector also has a yawning gender and socioeconomic imbalance; just 36 per cent of employees in the sector are women, and only 5 per cent of jobs are held by those from less socioeconomic advantaged groups.

About this project

This project focused on the creative sector’s challenges in terms of accessibility and social mobility for people from less privileged backgrounds, including Black Asian Minority Ethnic (BAME) groups and women. Specifically, we will be focusing on the following subsectors within the cultural and creative industries:

  • Crafts and design: product, graphic and fashion
  • Music, performing and visual arts
  • Film, TV, radio and photography
  • Museums, galleries and libraries

Key research questions include:

  • How is the accessibility and social mobility of creative industries changing?
  • What barriers remain in place?
  • How can these be tackled to make the sector more inclusive?

This research was published in February 2019. Read the report.


This project has been generously supported by:

The Swarovski Foundation, set up in 2013, works to support culture and creativity, promote human empowerment and conserve natural resources to achieve positive social impact. Within its wider mission, the Foundation is committed to removing barriers to access in the arts for people from disadvantaged backgrounds, and to promoting inclusivity and diversity.