Closing the class gap in the creative industries

Despite urgent calls for diversity, the creative industries remain overwhelmingly middle class. We look at what can be done to allow new voices in

Class is something that has permeated the creative industry since its inception, yet few talk about it. Why? Because the privileges that have allowed people to succeed in the industry are made invisible — if everyone comes from a similar (read: middle class) background, then no one has cause to talk about this as a privilege, because it’s normalised.

Orian Brook is one of the authors of Culture is Bad For You, a book which explores inequalities in the cultural and creative industries. As I probe her about the manifestation of class in the industry, she explains why its pervasiveness makes it so hard to pin down. “Nobody walks around saying, ‘yes I got to where I am because of structural inequalities that I’m the beneficiary of’ — they look for a way to say ‘I’m just normal and OK’.”

In the conclusion of the book, Brook and her co-authors Dave O’Brien and Mark Taylor interview men in senior positions, who recognise that rampant inequalities exist, but when examining their own careers, put their privileges down to “luck”. “There are several examples where they say, ‘I was given a job I wasn’t really qualified for, I don’t know why they took a chance on me’. And it’s because they were a privately educated white man — that’s why they took a chance on somebody who wasn’t qualified.”