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Cost of living ‘significant barrier’ to accessing creative industries for under-represented talent

Posted on September 27, 2023

Creative Access x McLaren Racing Career Development Bursary launches for a third year

The UK’s economic crisis is reaching a breaking point for those from under-represented backgrounds looking to access or progress in the creative economy. As creative job cuts increase, 82% of those working and aspiring to work in the creative industries name the cost of living crisis as a significant barrier to accessing roles, according to new research from Creative Access, the leading social enterprise in progressive career development & support, who is today launching its third Career Development Bursary, supported by long-standing partner McLaren Racing.

The Bursary is a fund aimed at supporting talent from communities under-represented in the creative industries in terms of ethnicity, disability and lower socio-economic status, who aspire to work, or progress their career, in the creative industries, but who are currently held back from doing so because of financial barriers. Applications are now open for eligible individuals here.

Financial barriers to creative careers

Creative Access surveyed individuals in its community working in or looking to pursue a career in the creative industries to examine how financial barriers impact career progression. The results demonstrate how crucial the Bursary will be to enabling people from under-represented groups to access and progress in the sector. Key findings show:

  • The majority of respondents (82%) have not applied for jobs because of financial barriers, an increase of 5% since 2021
  • 57% say financial barriers are a significant threat to their creative career progression
  • The top three financial barriers when applying for jobs are: commuting costs (24%) unaffordable living costs (24%) and being without funds to re-locate (15%)

Bursary impact

Over 80% of participants of last year’s Creative Access x McLaren Racing Bursary agreed that the fund had helped them to access new opportunities. And the fund was able to enhance the creative careers of individuals who used the support for numerous essential career-boosting causes, such as:

  1. Tech/equipment (47%)
  2. Training (22%)
  3. Driving lessons (13%)
  4. Living/studio/relocation costs (10%)
  5. Creative project funding/award submissions (8%)

Participants from 2022’s fund explained how the support had altered their career trajectory in the creative industries: 

  • “This bursary is potentially life changing for me. It has allowed me to rent my first studio where I will create and expand the work I make as an artist”. Terna, 2022 bursary recipient
  • ”It has given me the tools, affirmation and confidence to jump into being a freelancer. It feels as though I’ve been given a serious chance at a leap forward.” Freelance design professional
  • ”As a disabled person the bursary was super helpful in terms of confidence and creating ways to make my business more accessible.” Freelance website design professional
  • “I went from being stagnant with my creativity to flourishing.” Visual artist

Kate O’Hara-Hatchley, Head of Diversity, Early Careers and Development, McLaren Racing – to be updated for 2023

“Here at McLaren Racing, we have a strong belief that everyone should have access to the same resources and opportunities within our industry, regardless of financial status or background.  

“We’re proud to partner with Creative Access on this bursary as part of McLaren Racing Engage, our flagship DE&I programme, which aims to tackle the STEM skills shortage, address systemic inequalities and find new ways to open pathways into motorsport careers. We have set ourselves the ambition of becoming one of the most inclusive teams in sport. Driving an inclusive and diverse team is an ongoing process, but something we are committed to for the long-term along with partners like Creative Access. Together, we hope to inspire and encourage the next generation of creative talent within our sport and remove the barriers.”

Bibi Hilton, CEO, Creative Access

“We’re disappointed – but sadly unsurprised – to see the confirmation of what we see and hear all too often from our community: that financial barriers exclude those from historically minoritised communities from accessing roles and progressing in the creative industries. At Creative Access, our mission to break down these barriers, which is why we are proud to be able to continue to provide this Bursary with our long-standing partners McLaren Racing to give funding to individuals from under-represented communities as they progress in their careers and help to shape the future of our industry”.

Bursary application information

To apply for the 2023 Bursary, individuals must be over the age of 18, eligible to work in the UK, identify as being from an under-represented group in the creative industries and demonstrate financial need. Within their application, individuals must communicate:

  • An aspiration to work in/develop their career in the creative economy
  • A clear idea of what they would spend the Bursary on & how it would contribute to their career development 
  • Evidence of expected costs

Apply here