Firstly, breaking into the creative industry is tough. It requires unfaltering commitment – especially when all your applications and emails are met with noes or worse, silence – an abundance of enthusiasm, and the ability to constantly add threads to your bow (more on that later*).
But the creative industries, as well as being notoriously difficult to get into have another problem: they do not fully represent the rich and vibrant society we live in. The lack of Black, Asian and Ethnic Minority (BAME) individuals in tv, publishing, theatre, radio (the list goes on) is a problem. If the creative industries do not reflect the diversity of their audience, readership and listeners from within, then not only are voices and perspectives being ignored, but the material and content being produced continues to perpetuate the idea that this is okay and so it continues as a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy.
But fear not! Through positive action schemes companies and organisations are taking steps to ensure that BAME individuals have the opportunity to access work, training and internships in the creative industries, with many recognising the need for a diverse workforce.
There are also not-for-profit social enterprises like Creative Access who are ‘working towards a day when Britain’s society is truly reflected in our creative industries’ by providing young BAME people with paid opportunities in creative companies. They operate across different creative sectors across the UK including: book publishing, film, museums & galleries, music, radio and theatre to name a few and internships range from 3 to 12 months.
Other companies such as HarperCollins and Hachette offer traineeships for those looking to embark on a career in publishing with rotations in different teams such as publicity, marketing, editorial, production, strategy and audio.
*Of course developing the skills through internships and traineeship opportunities is not the only way of getting hands on experience. Breaking into the creative industries requires fingers in many pies…spinning plates…juggling – take your pick of metaphors! Doing work to get work and develop your career seems common place particularly within the industry. Whether it’s starting a blog (or vlog!) to review books, having a radio show or podcast or being active on social media to join the conversation about casting in theatre productions, there are many ways to add strings to your bow to strengthen you as a candidate. Hopefully it won’t require too much work or be too taxing if it’s something you find interesting and it’ll also show an engagement and genuine in the industry.
In recent years there has been some backlash about schemes that take positive action to encourage and enable individuals from BAME backgrounds to enter the creative industries but positive action (which is different to positive discrimination) is lawful (under the Equality Act 2010) and is necessary until diversity becomes the norm within these industries.