6 out of 10 performing artists will struggle with essential costs due to the cost-of-living crisis


We have published a new member survey revealing how performers and creative workers are struggling to survive due to the cost-of-living crisis – with the majority expected to struggle to meet essential costs and many considering leaving the profession

One member told us: "I don’t eat and my health has declined. I’ve even turned the gas off to my own home at stopcock as I can’t afford it. I sold my TV as I can’t afford a TV license. I don’t live, I exist.”

  • ​60% of respondents anticipate difficulty in meeting essential costs (e.g. housing, rent, food, childcare, utility bills) due to the cost-of-living crisis.
  • ​47% have already experienced difficulties in meeting essential costs during the period 2021-22.
  • ​33% have seen their level of personal debt increase in the last year.
  • ​41% feel negative about their prospects for work in the entertainment industry over the next 12 months (24% feel positive).
  • 1​9% anticipate having to leave the entertainment industry due to the cost-of-living crisis (36% do not anticipate this, 46% are not sure).

Further surveys results are detailed below. 

Alongside these shocking findings, the new analysis of Government data shows that Black people and young people have already left the profession in droves following the devastating impact of Covid-19. Comparing DCMS workforce estimates for January 2019 to December 2019 and October 2020 to September 2021, Equity found that:

  • ​The number of young people (aged 16-24) working in music, performing and visual arts has fallen by 19% (compared with a 14% increase for people aged 55-64).
  • ​The number of Black / African / Caribbean / Black British people working in music, performing and visual arts has fallen by 39% (compared with 9% fall of White people).

Figures published in full below.

Equity is demanding that the Government does more to shield its members and the creative workforce from the debilitating impacts of the cost-of-living crisis. This comes ahead of tomorrow's (Saturday 18 June) cost-of-living demo organised by the TUC, with Equity activists marching alongside the trade union movement and Equity General Secretary Paul W Fleming participating as a speaker. 

Ahead of crucial pay negotiations, Equity is also calling on employers, producers and engagers in the performing arts and entertainment industry to urgently address the harmful impacts of the crisis by improving pay and conditions in order to protect the sustainability and diversity of the workforce.

Paul W Fleming Equity General Secretary, says: “Our survey findings confirm that the cost-of-living crisis is a workforce crisis. This weekend Equity and all trade unions are demanding better – and we are clear about what better looks like. It’s trade unions freed from red tape and able to help workers get better pay and dignity in every workplace. It’s the Government stepping up to end austerity, to use taxpayer money to tackle the cost of living, support the creative industries to fully recover from the pandemic and fund public services. Equity’s members are​ tired of being told to be resilient – it’s time to collectively resist. Equity’s members deserve better from their Government. We demand it.”


The survey, carried out on 306 members and conducted between May and June 2022, further found:​

  • ​70% of members are currently or will shortly need to work more hours and days just to cope with essential living costs.
  • ​89% think the cost-of-living crisis will force those on low incomes and artists from working class backgrounds out of the industry.
  • ​72% think the cost-of-living crisis will put added pressure on young artists, new entrants and graduates.
  • ​65% think the cost-of-living crisis will make things worse for marginalised groups, including women, Black, and deaf and disabled artists.​

DCMS workforce estimates of the number of filled jobs (in thousands) for the music, performing and visual arts sector for the 2019 calendar year and October 2020 to September 2021.


January 2019 to December 2019

October 2020 to September 2021

% change

16-24 years




25-34 years




35-44 years




45-54 years




55-64 years




65 years+







January 2019 to December 2019


October 2020 to September 2021

% change





Black / African/


Black British





These findings are mirrored in an Ofcom report titled ‘Broadcasters facing diverse talent drain’ published in September 2022. The report found that female employees were more likely to leave TV and radio industries and the proportion of TV employees who are disabled projected to fall over the next five years.

Equity will be joining the wider trade union movement to demand better solutions from the Government on the cost-of-living crisis at a TUC-organised demo on Saturday 18 June. More information about the demo and how to get involved can be found on on our website.