PIPA performing arts survey reveals ‘career penalties’ for parents and carers

Parents and Carers in Performing Arts (PIPA) shared the findings of its UK-wide survey into the impact of caring responsibilities on career progression in dance, music and theatre at a parliamentary event hosted by Tracy Brabin MP on 18 October 2018.

As evidenced in the study, work in the performing arts disadvantages those with caring responsibilities through ‘career penalties’ with carers, women and freelancers finding it hard to make ends meet and fund childcare.

The Balancing Act survey was conducted in partnership with Birkbeck, University of London, while the research project was funded by the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors (BASCA), Help Musicians UK, Sadler’s Wells and SOLT / UK Theatre with data gathered from over 2,500 people, including over 1,000 respondents with caring responsibilities.

The full practice report will be available in December 2018.

Key findings

  • Freelance workers in the arts are vulnerable as they have to rely on their own resources and support structures in order to continue their careers. Women earn on average 25% less than men, which is on a par with other industry sectors.
  • 44% of women have had to change roles due to childcare responsibilities, compared to 23% of male carers; 50% of female carers and 36% of male carers have had to change job location because of childcare issues. Women with caring responsibilities are more likely to work part-time or freelance than women without caring responsibilities. There is no notable difference between the employment structure of men, when comparing men with, and those without, caring responsibilities. Parents and carers report a career and salary sacrifice in order to fulfil caring responsibilities and are unable to access career opportunities as those working in the performing arts rely on other income to pursue their arts careers and habitually give up performance work once they become parents. This is not out of choice as 43% of female carers would want to increase their working hours in the arts, as would 32% of working fathers, if adequate childcare were available.
  • There is a lack of support and training opportunities for those who have had to change their job role. Of those who have changed roles, only 19% agree that they received adequate training and only 21% agree that they received adequate support.
  • 79% of female respondents report that they are the primary carer (i.e. responsible for more than 50% of the caring) but only 16% of male respondents say the same. There is a high desire among freelance respondents for shared parental leave as 74% of men and 72% of women say they’d like to access shared parental leave if it were available.
  • The majority (54%) of survey respondents were freelancers, which is in line with the industry’s high proportion of freelance workforce. Only 29% of carers responding to the survey were in full-time employment, compared to 45% of non-carers.

Recommendations from PIPA

PIPA recommends that:

  • Employers and Industry bodies collaborate with PIPA to establish career development opportunities for carers and parents returning to work, through training, coaching, mentoring and returnship programmes.
  • Equal opportunities monitoring must include carers and parents and be reviewed on an annual basis in order to benchmark progress.
  • Organisations urgently review their working practices, in line with the PIPA Best Practice Charter, to adopt a flexible approach to recruitment, management and development for all staff, including freelance and employed workers.

‘Career penalties for carers and women’

Professor Almuth McDowall from Birkbeck, University of London, said:

‘The data points to high job insecurity, career penalties for carers and for women and an urgent need for flexible and inclusive work practices.

‘A recent job share for a performing artist in the London West End made headlines news – but this is common practice in other sectors. Our data shows that there is urgent need for change.’

Cassie Raine, Actor and Co-Founder of PIPA, said:

‘This is a great opportunity to reflect as an industry and investigate more supportive working practices, inclusive of carers and parents, whether they are single parents or caring for sick or elderly relatives.

‘No matter where you start off in life or what happens on the way, as an industry we have to show that we are invested in workforce wellbeing and value their ability to maintain a work-life balance.’

Claire Gevaux, Director of Programme, Help Musicians UK, said:

‘HMUK is delighted to support this vital piece of research into the working conditions of parents and carers in music as well as the rest of the performing arts. The findings indicate parents and carers experience clear obstacles to career progression, the largely freelance workforce needs support and infrastructure as well as equal career opportunities.

‘It is clear that carers contribute to a rich and diverse talent pool so supporting their working conditions and keeping them in the sector will help to future-proof the success of the music industry. HMUK supports and champions a thriving music industry.’

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