Survey investigates freelance creative practitioners and austerity

Arts organisations are adapting to austerity measures but the challenges of freelance arts and cultural workers have been overlooked despite making up a significant proportion of the arts sector workforce, according to Leicester researchers.

They are launching a new survey to collect the experiences of the self-employed and those not in secure contracts within the arts, cultural and creative industries in the East Midlands to understand how austerity is affecting them, and what can be done to support them. 

The East Midlands Creative Practitioners Survey is the first ever survey to focus on freelancers that work in the arts, cultural and creative industries in the East Midlands. The survey is open to people working in any form of creative practice, including audio-visual, performing, literary and participatory arts. Everyone who fills out the survey will have the opportunity to enter a prize draw and win one of 4 prizes of £50 of high street vouchers.

While the arts, cultural and creative sectors are often portrayed as highly meritocratic, women, BAME people, disabled people, working class people and those with caring responsibilities are underrepresented. Funding cuts and the wider effects of austerity are impacting on artists and cultural workers in a range of ways, particularly those without secure contracts or stable sources of income. But these voices are rarely heard in mainstream debate.

Dr Jack Newsinger (pictured), from the Department of Media and Communication, said: “Our research seeks to represent the lived experience of creative lives under austerity, and how this is affecting access and participation.

“The arts, cultural and creative sectors are culturally and economically vital to the region, yet little is known about the challenges that freelance creative practitioners face during these times of austerity, nor what could be done to support them. We want to change that.”