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The struggle for art: experiences of young artists in search of a career in the creative sector

conference contribution
posted on 2023-07-26, 14:39 authored by Anna Paraskevopoulou
Young people’s transition from education to gaining a career has long been the subject of sociological enquiry, with more emphasis in recent years on precarious employment experiences (Kretsos, 2010; Standing, 2011). In the creative sector, increasing importance has been given to young people’s engagement with all forms of the arts as it is thought that irrespective of the educational setting or the socioeconomic background of young people, arts participation can have a transformative effect on young people by contributing to the development of social and life skills (ACE, 2003). A recent OECD report, ‘Art for Art’s Sake?’ examined the importance of arts education in knowledge-based societies where innovation is considered to be key to economic growth. The report found that as well as creative and cultural skills, arts education in contemporary societies also delivers skills considered as relevant to innovation (OECD, 2014). Yet, as a consequence of today’s financial landscape, persistent cuts continue to impact the financial and operational stability of the creative and cultural industries (Spending Review, 2013/2014). The paper presents the findings of a three-year qualitative longitudinal study that followed a sample of 68 young people who transitioned from education to either further study or into the labour market. The study also included more than a dozen interviews with mature students who completed their arts education and were already in the labour market. The paper will explore the precarious and unstable work conditions of these young artists and will interpret their experiences through the lenses of the ‘social’ and ‘cultural’ capital, as recent social research highlights how important these factors are for social mobility (Savage 2013). Furthermore, the paper will concentrate on the intersections of age, race and ethnicity and social background in order to analyse the position of young artists entering the labour market.


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Work, Employment & Society Conference 2018


Belfast, UK

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Faculty of Business & Law

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