Posted 22 July 2021

A list of schemes and resources made for creatives from low-income backgrounds

It can be hard to get a foot into the creative industry, but studies show that it’s far tougher if you’ve come from a low-income household. In fact, studies show that the percentage of working-class creative professionals has only decreased over the past few years. One scheme working to break down this barrier is Creative Mentor Network – but it’s really not alone in its mission. Here, in collaboration with CMN’s founder Isabel Farchy, we’ve complied a list of empowering initiatives set on opening up the industry for the better.

In recent years, we’ve seen an increase in conversations around socieconomic diversity. And yet, with so much brilliant talent looking to break into the industry and companies devoting budget to making change, the numbers remain stagnant. Currently, the percentage of people from working class backgrounds in creative roles remains unchanged, from 17.6% in 2014 to 16.2% today.

“This is a sector specific problem,” Isabel tells us, “Social mobility is worse in the creative industries than in the workforce as a whole, with those from privileged backgrounds more than twice as likely to end up in creative occupations than their working class peers – a third higher than in other sectors.”

Longer-term change will naturally take time, but there is help out there. Here, we’ve compiled a list of organisations and initiatives focused on supporting creatives from low socioeconomic backgrounds.

While we don’t have first-hand experience of everything featured here, we hope this will be helpful in seeing what options are available. We’re also open to your suggestions if you feel we’ve missed something out – let us know at [email protected]

Creative Mentor Network

Creative Mentor Network is designed for young people aged 16–25 from lower socio-economic backgrounds in the UK. Through mentoring programmes and a talent-finding service, its mission is to create easier access to the creative industries, no matter your background.

Find out more:
Job opportunities

Creative Access

Creative Access supports people from groups that are underrepresented in terms of ethnicity, socioeconomic background and disability, plus those facing barriers to employment. It does so by offering support and training to those looking to enter the creative industries, and helping them to thrive once they get there.

Find out more:
• Recruitment training
• Candidate support
Job opportunities

Create Jobs

Since 2011, Create Jobs has been supporting the next generation of talent by co-designing training programmes with leading companies, brokering job opportunities and developing networks. With a goal to support 40,000 emerging creatives into new jobs by 2030, the company offers a constant flow of insightful courses for young Londoners who are underrepresented in the creative and digital industries.

Find out more:
Training programmes
Online events
Coronavirus support

Sutton Trust

Founded in 1997, The Sutton Trust Foundation has worked to address the lack of social mobility in the UK through research, programmes, policy influence, the board and an alumni community. The company has also produced a number of insightful reports examining social mobility in both education and the workplace.

Find out more:
Sutton Trust Online (digital summer schools)
Alumni network


Reclaim is a youth leadership and social change organisation, using the team’s experience and platform to support and amplify the voices of working class young people. Alongside impactful campaigns, the company offers a series of webinars and podcasts in partnership with Student Minds, a place to explore class, facilitate discussions, as well as support and amplify these voices.

Find out more:

Bridge Group

The Bridge Group is a non-profit consultancy that uses research to promote social equality, done so by supporting organisations with expertise, research and practical skills to enable lasting impact on socio-economic diversity and equality. The company also publishes research, hosts events and generates funds for the charity through consultancy work and an annual conference.

Find out more:

Working Class Writers Festival

The Festival for Working Class Writers is set to launch in October this year in Bristol, taking place as party of the city’s annual Festival of Ideas. Shining a spotlight on authors who are underrepresented at other events, the festival will bring together a host of poets, journalists and academics to take part.

Find out more:
• More info here

Working Class Creatives Database

The Working Class Creatives Database shares and highlights the work of working class creatives. Currently running as a website and Instagram page, they also aim to create a space for conversation and connections, as well as sharing opportunities, skills and knowledge. This is all in service of the larger goal to make creative bubbles more accessible for working class people.

Find out more:
• Join the database
• Open letter
• Use the resources

Arts Emergency

Launched in 2011 by comedian Josie Long and campaigner Neil Griffiths, Arts Emergency has gone on to do brilliant things for aspiring creatives from less-privileged backgrounds. Among their initiatives is The Arts Emergency mentoring scheme, which connects young people with expert mentors, work experience and free cultural activities.

Find out more:
• Join their support network

Common People

An online community comprised of those from working class backgrounds, Common People has the aim of “making common people more common in the creative industry.” Formed from a WhatsApp group, their community spans everyone from emerging creatives to hiring managers, educators and charities. Sign up to their newsletter for opportunities, initiatives, industry advice and the opportunity to join their WhatsApp group – plus observations and humour on current affairs and creative news in the UK.

Find out more:
• Sign up to their newsletter where you’ll be able to join their WhatsApp group
• Follow them on LinkedIn

Written by Creative Lives in Progress
Mention Isabel Farchy