The UK film exhibition sector exhibits ethnic and economic disparities: survey

A new survey has found that there are significant ethnic, economic and geographic inequalities in the UK film screening workforce.

The survey was conducted by the Independent Cinema Office (ICO), the UK national body that supports independent cinemas through programming, training, advice and cultural distribution, and the Bridge Group, a non-profit consultancy that uses research to promote social equality . The survey was conducted in April and included 602 people, including professionals, freelancers, volunteers and anyone who helps audiences access cinema.

The survey shows that the cinema screening sector does not reflect the UK’s ethnic diversity, particularly as a larger proportion of respondents are from London and the South East and have found that Black, Asian or ethnically diverse can be found at all levels of the business are underrepresented. 89% of the survey participants were white.

More than half of the sector – 56% – come from a more privileged background, according to the survey, with 15% having attended an independent school and 77% having obtained a degree or higher education. Film exhibition has a larger proportion of people with a high socio-economic background than other creative industries (52%) and in the general population (37%).

The number of jobs in this sector is heavily biased towards London and the South East, with 36% of respondents coming from there and just 15% from the north of England and 14% from Scotland.

Half of those questioned have never had any professional training; 26% received training sponsored by their employer or other agency, 17% have sponsored training from a mix of sources (some employer, other agency and self-funded) and 7% have completed entirely self-funded training. Over a third of respondents indicated that cost and funding were a barrier to training. Obstacles frequently cited included workload, access to and availability of training, and a lack of employer or broader support.

Respondents most desired professional development in the following areas: audience development (32%), diversity and inclusion including accessibility, disability awareness, sign language (25%) and programming (23%). Environmental sustainability and the climate crisis were also of high concern (20%), according to the survey.

ICO Director Catharine Des Forges said: “The ICO has strived to support and diversify the sector by developing meaningful training and development opportunities for almost 20 years. This survey, the largest of its kind ever conducted, makes it very clear how much work needs to be done so that we can ensure long-term strategic results in a more dynamic, thriving sector that truly reflects modern Britain and is therefore confident with audiences can speak, to stand up for the best of national and international cinema.”

Nik Miller, Chief Executive of The Bridge Group, said: “The survey contains some encouraging results – for example, the most important area of ​​training provided by respondents was diversity and inclusion. However, there are also some more sobering results: the results show a population that tends towards those from a higher socioeconomic background; and 40% of respondents have gained unpaid work experience to further their careers. We commend the sector for its response to the survey and look forward to taking action based on the results.” The UK film exhibition sector exhibits ethnic and economic disparities: survey

Charles Jones

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