Creative Economy & Cultures of Production, Creativity & Cultural Labour, Cultures of Creativity

Creative Economy Research Frontiers Seminar Series – Creative Work and Gender: Barriers and Activism

Dr Tamsyn Dent & Dr Kate McMillan

Dr Tamsyn Dent and Dr Kate McMillan both presented research as part of the Creative Economy Research Frontiers Seminar Series, organised and hosted by CMCI and DISCE.EU in partnership with the Creative Industries Policy and Evidence Centre (PEC), Nesta. The event, Creative Work and Gender: Barriers and Activism was the third in a series of four research seminars developed by Dr Roberta Comunian of the Cultural, Media and Creative Industries Department at King’s College London with the PEC which invited research that addressed emerging challenges relating to the creative economy. This seminar included papers that explored new forms of big data that identify gender barriers in the creative sector and collaborations between HE and grassroots organisations to develop such research. Dr Dent presented her work developed in partnership with the organisation Raising Films that addressed the experiences of ‘carers’ working in the UK screen sector and Dr McMillan presented a number of research projects into the lack of equality for female artists in the visual arts includes the annual report ‘representation for Female Artists in Britain’ developed through her ongoing collaboration with the visual arts organisation, the Freelands Foundation.

Dr Dent’s paper, ‘Gender, Sexuality and Care in the UK Screen Industry’ presented findings from a research survey that targeted carers working in the screen sector. Carers are defined anyone, (including children) who looks after a family member, partner or friend who needs help because of an illness, frailty, disability, mental health problem or an addiction. Raising Films is a community and campaigning organisation for parents and carers employed within the UK screen sector and it was following consultations with members that the absence of data specifically on barriers to screen labour faced by carers, as opposed to parents was identified. The full findings from the carers survey can be read in the report. This paper concentrated on a relationship that emerged from the data between sexuality and care, looking at the experiences of stigma and rejection from colleagues and employers faced by men in same-sex relationships when combining caring responsibilities and screen labour. The research complicates notions of caregiving as a gendered activity and expands the case for more in-depth intersectional research into barriers relating to caregiving and creative labour.

Dr McMillan’s paper on the representation of female artists within the UK’s commercial gallery was based on quantitative data on the representation of female visual artists taken in 2016 and 2019 and a series of qualitative interviews with gallery directors. Dr McMillan’s work explores the significance of representation within the UK’s commercial sector as related to value and recognition at the institutional level. This has a particularly problematic consequence for female artists who are significantly under-represented at the commercial level. The detailed level of analysis illustrates patterns of inequality linked to the size of the gallery, the gender of the director and unconscious bias relating to concepts of motherhood and value. Dr McMillan also presented findings from the Freelands Foundation report which analyses the visual arts sector more widely and its uneven opportunities for female artists. The findings can be accessed through the report available online. The most recent report will be launched in Autumn 2020.

Below you can watch a recording of the seminar: