A survey of the Creative Access community, investigating the impact of coronavirus on under-represented communities within the creative industries, has revealed 80% are prioritising finding a new job or freelance work, with almost 40% saying they have run out of money already or are about to do so.
Creative Access works across the creative industries, including in television, film, journalism, advertising and music as well as publishing, and its report, On the Verge, was informed by survey responses of 252 people from its community. Of those, 89% identified as being from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds and 19% identified as having a disability, the vast majority of participants were female (85%) and aged between 21 and 30 years (86%), and over half (56%) have under two years' experience in the creative industries.
The survey revealed that for 44% of people, their primary source of income has changed in lockdown. Of these, the majority (69%) had under five years of experience in the creative industries suggesting that aspiring and early creative career professionals have been most adversely affected.
On 1st March 2020 and pre-pandemic, a third of people (34%) were on a PAYE permanent full-time contract, whereas at the point of completing this latest survey (late May–early June) those formerly on PAYE employment dropped to under a quarter of people (23%) who were still being paid to do the same job. Nearly a fifth of people (18%) had been furloughed and nearly a fifth (18%) said they had work cancelled or postponed because of coronovirus.
Over a third of people (35%) said they are running out of money and becoming financially unstable, and a small number of people (4%) said they are already financially unstable and need immediate assistance – statistics Creative Access called "very concerning" as "this is likely to increase".
Mental health has taken a hit as a result of the pandemic, with 67% of respondents reporting their mental health is suffering due to coronovirus.
"Furlough has had a massive impact — finances, job security, mental health, prospects," said one respondent. "I have tried to make use of the available time to pursue creative projects, but the stress and need to seek other work make this difficult."
Another respondent said: "I lost the majority of my freelance work at the beginning of lockdown, but have been extremely lucky enough to secure a new long-term contract elsewhere. However, since lockdown, Iʼve been all over the place feeling unmotivated, anxious and depressed, which has been affecting my work and wellbeing."
Creative Access has made several recommendations after 81% said they would like support via mentoring and access to training. Among these include introducing online training courses for industry specific skills development; alerts about internships, jobs and freelance opportunities in the creative industries; and remote mentoring by experienced industry professionals. Other suggestions to come out of the survey were to make opportunities less London-based.
Recognising "more than words" will be needed to tackle lack of representation, longer-term the report asked companies to "evaluate where you are at" by looking at data for how they attract, recruit, develop and retain underrepresented workers and to conduct more anonymous surveys with staff to "ask every person at your company how they feel you are doing". Progressing existing staff from under-represented communities was also urged, with 40% of those in work currently looking to get a promotion/ pay rise at work.
The report said: "It is evident that young people from under-represented communities are disproportionately impacted by recent events; more likely to be furloughed, have work cancelled or postponed; more likely to be affected by the COVID virus itself and more likely to be impacted by the longstanding structural inequality within the creative industries. Now more than ever there is a need for diverse voices to be heard and amplified. As a sector which aims to represent society, the creative industries have a responsibility to address this issue. It will take more than words."