As individuals and professionals that care about the future of the cultural sector, many of us know that we have much work to do. If we want our sector to survive, we need our audiences to reflect wider society, and a workforce that is representative of the communities we serve. We need to create environments where young and aspiring art and cultural workers who are under-represented in our workforce can see a future for themselves. We need to disrupt the barriers that make the sector inaccessible to so many young Black, Asian, minority ethnic, working class and disabled people. We need to create pathways that enable under-represented young people to enter the sector, and we need to ensure our working environments are safe, supportive, and enable them to thrive alongside their more privileged counterparts.
This report aims to address these needs. It was commissioned by Tate Young People’s Programmes to further our work on the Routes In programme and network. The research, which is not exhaustive, aims to better understand the landscape of support available to young people in our sector, and which methods are proving most effective in enabling change. We wanted to better understand how Tate can support and connect the existing ecology of programmes and organisations doing this work. Young People’s Programmes acknowledge those who have been leading in this field for some time, and the Routes In network was set up as a means of learning from these organisations. However, this report looks beyond the existing offer and identifies the gaps. It makes a series of recommendations that we hope will inspire collective working at Tate and across the sector.
Our world has changed rapidly since this research was commissioned in 2019, from calls for urgent change through the Black Lives Matter movement, to the fall out of a global pandemic. As this report is published in the summer of 2020, the economic impact of coronavirus is only just beginning to take hold. However, it likely will compound over a decade of funding cuts and the demotion of arts subjects in the national curriculum. We are facing an uncertain future as a sector and this landscape has a disproportionate impact on young people of colour. With public commitments to race equality and anti-racism being made across the sector, now more than ever is the moment to look inwards, to reflect on our own practices and work together to enact tangible change. As our buildings re-open and we are required to think and work in new ways, this is our moment to reconvene as organisations and as a sector, to build the inclusive systems and structures needed that will ensure we are ready to do things differently in future.
The recommendations in this report have been made specifically for Tate, to inform strategy and inspire collective working across the organisation. Some recommendations will apply to other organisations with similar resources or will be able to be adapted. But most importantly, we recommend this work is undertaken in conversation with the Routes In network and young people themselves to ensure a collective and strategic approach, informed by lived experience.
We believe that as a public institution, Tate has a role to play in nurturing future generations of creative talent; and we invite you to place yourself, your department or your organisation in this work. What can you contribute to? What existing work can you draw on? Who can you collaborate with? How can you play a role in giving space and support to our future artists, educators, curators, archivists, conservators and digital producers? Young people need us to work together to give them the best possible chance to enter and thrive in our sector. In turn, we need them to give our sector the best possible chance to survive.
Convenor: Young People’s Programmes, Tate Britain & Tate Modern
Routes In was launched in 2017 by Tate Young People’s Programme, as a legacy project to Circuit, a project led by Tate and funded by Paul Hamlyn Foundation.
Circuit was a programme that examined how galleries can support positive change for young people. It taught us about the value of supporting young people’s personal and professional development.
The Routes In programme is also led by Tate Young People’s Programmes team. It aims to create a level playing field for young people from under-represented backgrounds when entering Tate and the wider cultural sector. Routes In has provided opportunity to interrogate and explore the shifts that need to take place to better support under-represented young people to navigate the creative sector as young professionals.
Routes In has three strands:
- Institutional change and internal advocacy championing inclusion and equity as an institutional priority, including the Young People’s Programme team leading and participating in a range of institutional working groups and training.
- Routes In network hosted by Tate Young People’s Programme and bringing together over 100 individuals from the cultural, education, youth and training sectors to share best practice around creating progression routes for young people into the creative and cultural industries (for member organisations, see Appendix 1).
- Peer-led programme led by young people to raise awareness and understanding of career opportunities within the sector, and build the skills and networks of a wider audience of young people.
This report focuses on three questions:
- What careers support is already on offer for young people aged 15–25 years?
- What is enabling change, allowing young people from under-represented backgrounds to enter the sector?
- What steps do Tate and the sector need to take to address the gaps?
Context: Routes In network & cultural sector
Young people from Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds
The Routes In network membership currently has a good representation of organisations that support young people from Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds. These young people should continue to be prioritised. People of colour are heavily under-represented in the sector workforce, they make up 12% of staff at National Portfolio Organisations (NPOs), compared to 16% of the total working age population. 38% of London’s working age population, but only 17.2% of Tate’s workforce, are from Black, Asian or minority ethnic backgrounds.
Young people who identify as disabled or neurodiverse
There is less representation in the Routes In network of arts organisations that offer careers support for young people who identify as disabled or neurodiverse, which needs to be addressed. Young people with disabilities need to be prioritised in this work, as arts workers with a disability are also heavily under-represented in the sector. 20% of working age adults in the UK identify as having a disability, but just 5% of staff at NPOs are disabled. 5% of Tate’s workforce identify as disabled.
Young people from working-class backgrounds
Although 35% of the working population identify as working class, they make up only 13% of the workforce in publishing, 18% in music, performing and visual arts, 12% in film, television, video, radio and photography, and 21% in museums, galleries and libraries. Recently there has been a focus on young people from lower socio-economic backgrounds through arts careers programmes like Arts Emergency’s mentoring programme, Creative Mentor Network, and Jerwood Art’s Weston Jerwood Creative Bursaries. Jerwood Arts, along with the Bridge Group, have produced A Socio-Economic Inclusion Toolkit for Employers which states:
‘Individuals from lower socio-economic backgrounds typically progress more slowly once they are in ... and there is strong evidence that those from lower socio-economic backgrounds are more likely to suffer as a result of not having the right networks, the right set of cultural references, and the knowledge of the right way to present themselves to get ahead.’
WHAT IS ALREADY ON OFFER FOR YOUNG PEOPLE AGED 15–25?
In London the creative and cultural sectors offer a wide range of programmes aimed at 15 to 25 year-olds. Examples from the Routes In network and beyond include:
- Creative Career days, fairs and alternative events
These range from large annual events to small-scale programmes of events across the year. Larger institutions often invite in smaller organisations and creative practitioners to give a broad insight into one specific career, or a broad range of creative careers. Examples include Barbican Creative Careers, ERIC Festival, Southbank Centre Creative Careers Day, South London Gallery Working it Out, Creative Society Creative Job Studio, Tate Routes In: Alternative Careers Fair, Photographers’ Gallery Develop, V&A Making It festival and UAL Creative Futures.
- Development and training programmes
These programmes range from short courses to year-long programmes and tend to be paid, or cover transport and refreshments. They often focus on young people who are not currently in employment, education or training, and often provide training to gain confidence and employability skills alongside a work placement or careers-related opportunity. However they are less likely to include a qualification than traineeships and apprenticeships. Examples include 198 The Factory, Accumulate, Create Jobs STEP, Creativity Works and Creative & Cultural Opportunities programmes, London Transport Museum Route into Work, Sour Lemons, as well as museum and gallery youth collectives including Tate Collective Producers.
- Internships, traineeships and apprenticeships
Internships, traineeships and apprenticeships differ depending on who is being targeted and whether accreditation is offered or not. Apprenticeships are always paid, internships/traineeships may or may not be paid. Apprenticeships offer work-based training, whereas internships and traineeships offer work-based learning. Examples include British Museum Future Curators, Chisenhale Gallery Curatorial Trainee Programme, Create Jobs and Culture & New Museum School, Old Vic Front Line and Weston Jerwood Creative Bursaries.
- Next step roles
After doing an internship, traineeship or apprenticeship what are the next step roles? Roles like Assistant Curator are highly competitive with many applicants having a Master’s degree and lots of experience (often voluntary) on CVs. Next step roles like Create London’s Genesis Young Curator role for those from minority backgrounds, support sustained experience and professional development for young people at a pivotal stage in their career. Terminology needs to be clarified around early career roles across the sector.
- Mentoring programmes
Mentoring programmes tend to take place over a 6 to 12-month period and focus on individuals rather than groups, although one-to-one sessions can be run alongside broader activity or networking opportunities. Mentoring takes investment from both the mentee and the mentor. It tends to involve meeting for an hour or more once a month, with discussions focusing on the mentees needs. Mentoring is a two-way process, with the mentor learning alongside the mentee. Internships, traineeships and apprenticeships benefit from having a mentoring opportunity attached. Examples include Arts Emergency, Create Jobs Meet a Mentor, Creative Mentor Network and Creative Society.
- Youth trustees
Youth trustees can make a genuine difference at the highest level of thinking and decision making in an organisation. They bring fresh thinking, new energy and skills to a board of trustees. A youth trustee position is also an opportunity for a young person to gain confidence, learn new skills, and develop a deeper understanding of how arts organisations function, as well as providing access to a network of professionals. Trustees are unpaid volunteers, giving their time and expertise free of charge. In return, many are offered expenses, such as travel or childcare costs. Roundhouse have produced a Youth Governance Guide for organisations thinking about having a youth trustee on their board. Organisations doing this work include National Youth Theatre, Peckham Platform, The Photographers’ Gallery and Roundhouse.
In discussion with Routes In network members, wider sector specialists and Tate Collective Producers, nine specific areas of change have been identified. We understand these areas as vital to enabling under-represented young people to enter the sector. It is important to note that the areas identified are co-dependent.
1. More inclusive recruitment processes
Recruitment processes in museums and galleries often exclude many young people who may not be able to afford university fees or undertake voluntary roles. Positive examples that enable change include reviewing essential criteria, alternative options to application forms, open sessions for applicants to find out more in a comfortable environment, alternative interview practices, and an inclusive onboarding process.
2. Paid living wage internships and traineeships
While Tate’s internship programme is paid Living Wage, the arts sector has been identified as one of the ‘most problematic sectors’ for unpaid internships. This study in 2018 found that nearly 90% of arts internships were unpaid, and the arts had one of the highest rates of placements per person, with 32% of interns completing three or more.
3. A change in parental and community perceptions of careers in the arts
A recent survey reports that creative subjects are still seen by UK parents as the least valuable to their children’s future career prospects. According to research studies and interviewees, involving parents is a powerful enabler of young people’s engagement in arts and culture, particularly for young children.
4. Specialist guidance and signposting for careers
Specialist guidance about diverse careers and practices allows young people to learn about possible lifestyles and routes into a career as an artist or art worker. This guidance includes sharing information about emerging digital and interdisciplinary practices. There is a need to bring much of the arts careers advice, job listings and opportunities (such as grants and training) together online in one place.
5. Alumni opportunities and employability skills
Alumni opportunities, allowing people who have moved on from studies, training programmes or early career roles to remain connected to their peers and organisations, provide more consistent, long term support. Sector specific employability skills are key to supporting next steps; interview advice, CV and application skills, portfolio reviews, freelance skills and sharing work online.
6. Next step roles
Next step opportunities are paid roles that bridge the gap in experience and training between internships or traineeships and roles like Assistant Curator, that tend to be highly competitive and advertised with the requirements of postgraduate qualification and years of experience. Next step roles include some training, the possibility of a qualification, and networking opportunities for career development.
7. Regular and long-term networking, mentoring, training and development
One-off events like careers days can be beneficial, but regular activity or opportunities delivered over a longer period, including a package of networking, mentoring, training and development, have greater impact. Sector support organisations like Creative Society, Create Jobs and Sour Lemons have refined and specific models, with proven success.
8. Apprenticeship schemes
Paid, work-based learning and experience allow young people who may not have had access to university to gain certification while working. Apprenticeships can create new routes into an organisation for young people, and provide opportunities for training, development and progression for existing staff members.
9. Wellbeing and mental health support
1 in 6 young people aged 16 to 24 has symptoms of a common mental health disorder. Many studies have deemed young people’s mental health today a full-blown crisis (now compounded by the impact of lockdown). This is particularly prevalent in universities, where the number of students declaring a pre-existing mental illness has more than doubled since 2014–15. Alarmingly, 70% of universities do not have a wellbeing strategy.
Routes In network members cited more inclusive recruitment processes and paid Living Wage internships and traineeships as the most important areas of work to enable young people to enter the sector. Starting early is advised, and greater connection to networks of schools and alternative education providers (for example, pupil referral units) is also needed to raise awareness of creative careers from a younger age.
An understanding of the nuances and needs of intersectional experiences of young people today should be considered. Specific care, support and onboarding for staff from Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds should be offered. This approach can help to address (often unintentional) racial microaggressions in the workplace and support staff of all backgrounds to feel safe and thrive in our work environments.
We also need to address the impact that an overwhelmingly white sector workforce (and lack of representation of arts professionals of colour) has on parental and community perceptions of careers in arts and culture.
Tate Collective Producers also shared their thoughts on the key areas for enabling change:
- On more inclusive recruitment processes
‘Inclusive recruitment is important. Having not attended university at all, I felt blocked out as a result of not having a degree. Having passion, transferable skills and experience in organisations should be relevant but is often not seen as valid.’ (Jasmine)
‘Needing an MA is a barrier to accessing certain roles, it is frustrating.’ (Elizabeth)
- On paid living wage internships and traineeships
‘Paid work evens out an individual's circumstance. It gives opportunities to young people based outside of London.’ (Elizabeth)
’London Living Wage allows you to have a choice in where you want to work, not just taking a role for the money.’ (Jasmine)
- On parental and community perceptions of a career in the arts
‘There is a stigma attached to working in the arts. You have to overcompensate. Showing the value of the arts and giving more information on the opportunities available in the arts would be useful. We need to make the different types of roles available in the arts more transparent.’ (Jahnavi)
‘There is no value placed on art in schools. Due to funding cuts people see it as a fun subject, rather than a valuable one, and give it up. When you are under pressure to choose subjects – art is not seen as the right path.’ (Elizabeth)
Recommendations for Tate and the wider sector
We believe the recommendations outlined will enable change and support young people from under-represented backgrounds to enter the cultural sector. These recommendations have been made specifically for Tate, to inform strategy, next steps and inspire collective working across the organisation. Some recommendations will apply or will be able to be adapted by other organisations with similar resources. We hope that sharing our ways of working can inform and progress positive action across the sector.
The recommendations fall into three key themes: information, support systems and structure and process.
Clarity, insight and access to information
1. Clarify language around early career job levels
What are ‘pre-entry’ level roles? What are ‘entry’ level roles? What are ‘next step’ level roles? Discuss and agree working definitions with the network (see Appendix 2) and share with the sector. Consider generating more ‘next step’ roles, like the Genesis Young Curator role at Create London, in partnership across organisations.
2. Create a digital careers content hub
Develop and produce a creative careers ‘digital content hub’, bringing together a wide range of careers advice in one place. Develop the Student Resources page on the Tate website to signpost to the Routes In network organisations, their opportunities and programmes and provide careers insights and employability resources. Consider a central careers portal to signpost young people to existing jobs and opportunities boards.
3. Produce content for teachers, parents and guardians
Create specialist guides and information for teachers, parents and guardians to support children who wish to pursue a career in the arts. Work directly with communities and take advice from sector support organisations and widening participation teams at universities, who hold expertise working with young people who do not have family members working in the arts and/or who have not completed a university degree.
SUPPORT SYSTEMS & Opportunities for young people to gain skills and experience
4. Give a platform to existing programmes – and advocate across the sector
Set up a partnership model of working with Routes In network members to avoid duplicating opportunities and support the wider ecosystem of sector support. Long-term programmes delivered by sector support organisations thrive with museums, galleries and arts organisations, Creative Society is a successful example.
5. Work in partnership to support a London-wide mentoring programme
Work with organisations who offer mentoring programmes and expertise like Creative Society, Sour Lemons or Creative Mentor Network. Develop training and framework for Tate staff. Explore supporting a London-wide mentoring programme with Routes In member organisations and young people, to provide a clear offer.
6. Build employability skills into early career roles
Develop progression routes from early career roles like internships, apprenticeships and Tate Collective Producers. Integrate training around freelance skills, networking skills, CV surgeries, job application and interview practice. Set up a training programme to provide support for early career individuals (for example, Tate Collective Producers) to get their next step roles. Make employability skills training and resources available on the Tate website to support a wider range of young people.
7. Provide regular networking opportunities for young people
Develop opportunities for young people to build their networks, with events such as ‘speed networking’ where young people get to meet a wide range of staff working across many internal departments over a short period of time. These could take place in venues like (un)common space at Tate Britain and across different Routes In network member organisations, to connect to a broader audience.
More equitable internal structures and processes
8. Make recruitment processes more inclusive
Devise and implement changes to recruitment processes focusing on transferable skills, knowledge and relevant experience, accessible language and methods of assessment, and recruiting for potential. Introduce a Workforce Development Policy or revise wider HR strategies to include recommendations from the full Routes In report, focusing specifically on disabled, working-class and young people of colour.
9. Invest in alumni networks to support early career professionals beyond 25
What happens after an internship or traineeship? Set up an alumni group for young people to stay in touch with other interns, Tate Collective Producer alumni and others. Follow and support their development beyond Tate and other network organisations. Learn from sector support organisations like A New Direction, Creative Access and the Creative Society, who are experienced in alumni development.
10. Set up a pool of young freelancers
Create a database that allows wider Tate departments and Routes In network members to easily access and offer paid employment to young freelance artists, producers, filmmakers, photographers, facilitators, evaluators and consultants. Connect with other groups from the network (for example, London Transport Museum or Sour Lemons).
11. Connect Routes In to schools networks
Explore how the Routes In programme can connect to schools networks with Tate Schools and Teachers team and across the organisation. Explore the Gatsby Benchmarks, ways to work with The London Enterprise Adviser Network, and how to offer career-related learning at a much earlier age, while pupils are at primary school.
12. Appoint two young people as youth trustees to the Tate Board
Two Youth Trustees could work together to bring the views of the next generation into Tate’s decision-making process, contribute to Tate’s strategic approach to prioritise young audiences, and work alongside the Youth Engagement Trustee, appointed in 2019. Consider providing targeted training in governance and leadership for young people.
Recommended next steps for Routes In network
The Routes In network has had a successful beginning and has gained momentum, but it now needs to move beyond conversation and take action, working together in partnership to form working groups focusing on key areas. A new partnership model will be key in a shifting landscape with potential for funding cuts and increased instability across the sector.
1. Clarify the focus (museums, galleries and cultural sector)
Focus on opportunities for young people within museums, galleries and arts organisations, working alongside sector support organisations. Remain open to, and in dialogue with, wider creative industries and initiatives to reflect young people’s interdisciplinary interests, but focus meetings, research and best practice on the cultural sector.
2. Expand the network to increase specific representation
Expand the Routes In network membership through a call-out to organisations working with disabled and working-class young people, young people of colour, and with experience supporting young people’s mental health. Include museum worker networks like Museum Detox and Museum as Muck. Increase representation of national and regional organisations, and young people themselves.
3. Work closely with sector support organisations
Sector support organisations are often further ahead than museums and galleries. They hold valuable expertise in supporting a wide range of progression routes for and with young people, and a clear view of best practice. They have tried and tested methods for engagement that should be acknowledged, made visible and supported.
4. Set up working groups
Create groups for Routes In network members and key Tate staff interested in working on specific projects in response to recommendations. Discuss what a partnership model could look like and what support or resources Tate can offer partner organisations. Devise a transparent process for organisations who want to work in partnership with Tate to manage capacity.
5. As a network, discuss key areas of focus for working in partnership
The network will need to discuss and agree areas to prioritise from the range of recommendations above and in the full report. These could include:
- Clarifying language around early career job levels
- Creating a digital careers content hub
- Producing specialist information for teachers, parents and guardians
- Working with a cross-sector HR team to pilot and implement more inclusive recruitment processes
- Developing a cross-sector alumni network to support early career professionals beyond 25
- Working in partnership to support London-wide mentoring and networking programmes
- Supporting young people and their wellbeing when accessing creative careers support
The Routes In programme has had a successful journey as a legacy project but it now needs to move beyond research and discussion and start to facilitate strategic action, both internally at Tate and across the sector. Within a shifting cultural landscape that has the potential for increased instability, a new partnership model for the network is key. The creation of working groups focusing on key areas will better allow Tate to support the existing ecology of work and take positive action.
At Tate, we must build collective ways of working to progress conversation into action. We must look at the resources, capacity and skills of our departments to co-ordinate a package of support and extend a hand to the next generation. We must also ensure executive boards, trustees and senior management hold a variety of different lived experiences and can better understand the impact of inequalities faced by new generations entering the workplace.
As a sector, the need to connect our work is greater than ever. We must focus on clarity, insight and access to information; shifting community and parental perceptions of the viability of careers in the arts, providing specialist guidance and signposting, and access to digital content. We must invest in support systems that enable young people to gain skills and experience, alongside access to mentoring and networking, development and training programmes, and opportunities to build employability skills into early career roles. We need to advocate for and offer paid Living Wage internships and traineeships. It is vital that we work together to implement more inclusive recruitment and onboarding processes, support alumni networks and young freelancers.
Above all, we must continue to listen to the next generation. They face a future impacted by a looming recession and uncertainty around their studies and job prospects. It is time for us to act, as institutions and individuals. We need to build equitable systems, structures and networks that give all young people the best opportunity to gain the skills, experience, networks and set of references needed to enter, and thrive, in our sector.
Appendix 1: Routes In network organisations
Plus individual freelancers and sector specialists
Appendix 2: Proposed early career role definitions
To be used as a starting point for discussion at Tate and across the sector.
Pre-entry level role: This should be an employee’s first job. It should offer insight into what it is like to be in a workplace. It should help build the employee’s confidence by offering lots of support without the expectation that individuals will come to the role with transferable skills or experience. These roles should be more like work placements or short term paid contracts. If someone has already done a ‘pre-entry’ type role outside of the sector they should be able to move straight into an ‘entry level’ role. An example of a pre-entry level role is the Lead Tate Collective Producer.
Entry level role: This could be an internship or traineeship. It requires passion and some experience or skills that are transferable but not specific to the sector. These roles should include some on the job training and support for the individual, such as focusing on employability skills and providing networking opportunities. These should be paid at (London) Living Wage for a fixed term such as six months to a year to give a number of individuals the opportunity. Ideally support would continue beyond the terms of the role in the form of an alumni group. To avoid individuals becoming a perpetual intern or trainee they should then be encouraged to move onto a ‘next step’ role. Examples of entry level roles are the Residents’ Programme Assistant and Heritage Programme Assistant at the South London Gallery.
Next step role: A job beyond ‘entry level’ that bridges the gap between roles like internships or traineeships and those that currently exist, like Assistant Curator, that tend to be advertised with the requirement for a relevant Masters qualification and many years of experience in the sector. Instead of creating new roles, when the current roles, like Assistant Curator, are re-recruited for, their essential criteria should be rethought. Qualification and vast experience are rarely real requirements. ‘Next step’ roles should be for longer than a year if fixed term, but ideally permanent, and could be offered in partnership across organisations. These roles should be paid at above (London) Living Wage and include some training, and possibly a qualification such as a higher level apprenticeship, while providing networking opportunities for career development. An example of a next step role is the Genesis Young Curator led by Create London.