Ageing and the Arts' by Gini Simpson 

In 2015, Business in the Community included age into its Diversity and Wellbeing Benchmark for the first time. According to their reports 10 million people in the UK are over 65 years old, it is expected this will increase by 40% to 16 million by 2030. In addition, the UK is heading toward a serious talent and skills shortfall, as the number of young people coming into the modern workforce will be insufficient to meet the needs of the future. Simultaneously researchers are identifying: 

“ There is an inequality in Britain’s workforce that is contributing to a large and worrying leadership skills gap. We see that over-50s are typically not being given equal opportunity to apply their much-needed occupational skills, knowledge and customer focus within a leadership role.” Kate Cooper, Head of Applied Research and Policy at the Institute of Leadership and Management.

On top of this, research identifies an increased lack of agency and invisibility of elders, where they become progressively absent from decision making and public life in general. 

The creative sector is expected to need 1.2 million new workers between 2012 and 2022, tosupport growth and replace those leaving the sector. Retention of workers is a particular issue for this sector, where workers over 50 are routinely overlooked for promotion despite possessing the knowledge and experience needed to fill the leadership skills gaps and the sector's dismal working conditions: opaque and covert entrance points and progression paths: very long hours and low pay making ongoing working in the sector prohibitive for many. (Currently 73% of the performing artsworkforce earns less than £20,000 a year -  Creative Industries Federation 2015)

“As you get older you’ve worked through a lot of questions about your identity and get to a point of self-acceptance where you are more effective at work than you would have been when you were younger. The age related changes people have gone through mean they have a stronger focus on quality and the importance of adding value to the job role.” Racheal Saunders, Business in the Community

So with this in mind, how can we more deeply understand why this happens? What are the impacts of this? How can we respond, are there useful strategies we can use to redesign how work happens in the creative sector for elders? What might we need to do to effect some kinds of change? Can we translate this across the sector, beyond elders? 

In February 2016, the Culture Capital Exchange hosted a Round Table event on the topic Ageing and the Arts and Cultural Sector. The first of a new series of Ideas Labs, designed to bring their researchers together around topics of mutual concern this time developed in collaboration with the Drama Dept at Queen Mary and Split Britches. 

As such, we are interested in bringing together researchers from across the TCCE membership who may be interested in exploring possibilities around working together further on this topic.


Business in the Community: The Missing Million April 2015

Creative Industries Federation and Mobo - Creative Diversity – The state of diversity in the UK’s creative industries and what we can do about it. September 2015

Age at Work Racheal Saunders, Business in the Community Nov 2015 

What Tammy Needs to Know - Performance and Practice Based Research Lois Weaver 2014- 15