People, 1. -  3. October 1998
Andy Feist
Department of Arts Management and Policy,
City University London, GB
Abstract: Cultural employment in the UK: what we can and cannot say about the profile of cultural workers

In order that public policy can be effectively focused, we need to be able to accurately identify the characteristics of the cultural workforce. Data from government Censuses and other surveys provide a useful first step in this process. However, we need to acknowledge that data in this area have inherent weaknesses and need to be interpretted with care.

The presentation will draw on a range of research undertaken in the UK using national government sources such as the decennial Census of Population, the Labour Force Survey, as well as more focused research studies, to provide a brief over view of the cultural workforce in the UK. Issues such as gender balance, employment and training patterns, unionisation and the mobility of cultural workers will be explored in detail.

The pattern of change will also be examined. Research in the UK has revealed a considerable growth in cultural sector employment since the early 1980s. In particular, many cultural occupations (though not all) are becoming increasingly feminised; levels of self employment and part- time employment have been found to have increased greatly. We need, however, to be careful about making sweeping generalisations about cultural sector employment. Indeed, it seems paradoxical that the overall growth in employment coincides with continued pressure on public support for the cultural sector. Are these changes for the good for cultural workers or is the situation more varied that the data might at first suggest?

Particular emphasis will be given to identifying those areas where data are weak and where critical question marks still remain. Can we really identify a new generation of cultural workers in Britain, and if so, what are their key characteristics? And what do the known characteristics of cultural workers reveal about the failure or success of public policy initiatives? If policy makers were to give greater prominence to research findings, where might future policy be directed?

Biography: Andy Feist began his research career at the independent Policy Studies Institute, in London, working primarily in the cultural field. Initially he worked with John Myerscough on the Economic Importance of the Arts Project. He was also co-founder and editor of the quarterly statistical journal Cultural Trends. Andy left PSI in 1992 to become the Senior Policy Analyst at the Arts Council of Great Britain, a post he held for almost six years. Since 1997 he has been undertaking research for the Home Office but has maintained his involvement in the cultural sector. He contributes to the Masters Course in European Cultural Policy at Warwick University and is an Honorary Senior Research Fellow at Londonís City University, where he runs the Mastersí module on Arts Policy Making. His published research output includes the music industry, amateur arts participation, employment patterns in the cultural sector, local authority arts policies and practice, and international comparisons in arts funding.
panel 3 debate 2