Panic! What Happened to Social Mobility in the Arts?

A new national survey and season of events dedicated to the preservation of UK arts

What impact do housing costs, benefits changes, higher education fees, reduced arts provision in schools, unpaid internships and low salaries have on the arts in the UK?

Panic! was a ten-day programme of music, film and live debate bringing together people from across the political spectrum to reflect on findings from a new national survey. The Panic! survey, circulated widely to those working in the creative and cultural sector in September and October 2015, presented a snapshot of who is working in the sector and how they got there. It aimed to uncover the social background of those working in the arts from how their higher education was funded, to where they can afford to live. Panic! aimed to encourage government, cultural institutions and businesses to reflect on their part in a situation where just 18.1% of Britain’s cultural workforce were brought up by parents who did traditionally working-class jobs, as compared to 34.7% in the country as a whole.

In a series of live debates we discussed the state of pop, the future of London, the economic value of a diverse cultural sector, and the impact of debt on creativity. Alongside this we presented a programme of live music and film reminding us of our great UK art heritage. At the British Art Show artist Ahmet Ogut presents Day After Debt to address rising costs of education and the impact resulting debt on the lives of young people.

Panic! also aimed to demystify stereotypes and assumptions about the routes into arts employment and the project also included a work placement scheme for 20 young people that aimed to demonstrate the huge positive impact young people from a range of backgrounds can have on the sector.

Accompanying Panic! was a visual campaign conceived by British Art Director Peter Saville to exemplify the current climate in the arts. Launched in October 2015 the campaign featured iconic faces from theatre, film, TV, art, design, fashion and music tagged with the occupation of their bread-winning parent, raising the question – could these important cultural players have any chance of success in 2015?

Full details of the Panic! project and events season can be found on the dedicated website.

Panic! is a Create project, delivered in partnership with the Barbican, the Guardian, Goldsmiths University and British Art Show 8, with support from the Paul Hamlyn Foundation and Arts Council England.