The Class Network fights for Equity's working-class members and for working-class representation in the arts.
The creative industries have long been dominated by the wealthy and privileged, and the problem is getting worse. People from working-class backgrounds make up just 16% of those in creative occupations, and proportions of working-class actors, musicians and writers have halved since the 1970s.
The barriers of low pay and precarious work in the industry are compounded by wider problems of the UK's housing crisis, rising costs and fraying social safety net. Without an elite education or access to the Bank of Mum and Dad, it's harder and harder to build and sustain a career in a creative profession.
The Class Network offers Equity members from working-class backgrounds practical help, resources, guidance and support in the workplace. Our major priority is to campaign on the issues affecting working-class artists, from the structural inequalities that exclude our voices to the representation of working-class lives on stage and on screen. Some of our key goals are:
- Address the crisis in arts education. There has been a collapse in enrolment in arts GCSEs and in the numbers of arts teachers, especially in state schools. This cuts off routes into the performing arts for children from poorer backgrounds, as well as denying them the enrichment of a creative education.
- Campaign for policy changes to support entry into the performing arts industry (such as forms of grant funding) and to address wider issues of inequality that prevent people from being able to sustain a career in the arts.
- Challenge the perception of the arts as a glamorous pursuit for a tiny minority.
- Collaborate with organisations with similar goals to campaign together and to share resources.
- Educate the industry around class issues and the portrayal and perceptions of the working class.