THE WORKING CLASS CREATIVES DATABASE MANIFESTO
WHO ARE WE?
The Working-Class Creatives Database (WCCD) CIC is a volunteer-led platform that highlights the work of working-class creatives in the UK. It was founded in 2020 to provide a platform for working-class creatives, to establish a strong community between working-class artists around the region and tackle classism within the arts by improving accessibility, engagement and opportunities.
Art is an important part of our society and provides an alternative way of communicating and expressing personal experiences and histories. It enhances connections and networks and provides a stronger sense of place, identity, and heritage. Our core values are ensuring working class creatives have equal access to the arts and its opportunities, not just those who can afford it.
WHAT WE DO:
The WCCD platforms working class creatives of all fields and stages, whether career or hobby. We are also an expanding, vital resource for researchers and programmers. We promote members' work both online and in exhibitions, host events and workshops, run residencies and takeovers, share opportunities with our members in our biweekly newsletter, and meet regularly; additionally, we offer members the option to join our reading groups and critical feedback sessions. WCCD also provides the option to sign up as a supporter. We currently have twenty-four supporters who are professionals in the creative sector. Supporters offer to share their skills and expertise with our members, free of charge. We have frequent WhatsApp chats and Zoom calls, creating a space for our members to build connections with other working-class creatives.
The Working Class Creatives Database aims to facilitate a space that puts working-class creatives at the forefront; A space for conversation, connections, and sharing of opportunities, skills, and knowledge. This database is about creating a community amongst working-class artists and encouraging greater representation of the working-class experience within the arts.
HOW DO WE DEFINE
'WORKING CLASS' ?
We recognise that the term ‘working class’ has been notoriously hard to define as a characteristic and people may find it difficult to define themselves. We have taken into consideration both the government's guide to measuring socioeconomic background and Cultural Hive’s guide to Socioeconomic diversity and inclusion in the arts which focuses on parental qualifications: parental occupation and the type of school attended by parents. We have also taken the Marxists’ and socialists’ definitions of the working class into consideration: those who have nothing to sell but their labour, power and skills. Additionally, one can define class by asking the following questions: how much of a margin of error do you have? How much do you have to fall back on? The stakes are high for a working-class person who wants a career in the arts and doesn’t have a support system around them.
We believe working classness is made from the intersection of various diversities, histories, places, and identities. Class-based inequalities are inextricably linked with gender, racial, disability and spatial disparities, and earlier research by the PEC has shown how these factors interact to compound disadvantage. What unites WCCD members is a culture formed from the difficulties of not having the same level of support to thrive in modern society as those from upper- or middle-class backgrounds. The Working-Class Creatives Database acts as this network and support system for working class creatives.
The WCCD is an essential response to sector recognition that social class is the most significant barrier to people aspiring to a career in the arts; this has been rigorously evidenced by Weston Jerwood and the 2018 report Panic - It’s an Arts Emergency, funded by the AHRC and delivered in partnership with the Universities of Edinburgh and Sheffield, with Arts Emergency.
The Working Class Creatives Database is currently run and managed by Seren Metcalfe and Chanelle Love. Attending two of the most prestigious art universities in London, both creatives felt the struggle of alienation because of their class background; they wanted to create a space to unite creatives who struggle with connections, relatability, and access.
WCCD has a voluntary team of members who support Seren and Chanelle with administrative tasks, running events, and evaluating guiding principles which ensures our approach is intersectional. These members are Ross Hammond, Wes Foster, Kat Outten, Zoe Everett, Katie Mcguire, Gullu Kandrou, Corie Mcgowan, Aiden Teplitzky.
Thus far, the WCCD has been running with zero funding; everything we have achieved so far has been out of a passion to make a change in the arts and in society for working-class people. With funding, we will strengthen our journey of making arts opportunities and engagement accessible to all.
If you support what we are doing and would like to make a donation, You can donate to WCCD here.
OUR PARTNERS AND SUPPORTERS
WCCD has previously worked with the following organisations through exhibitions, talks, research and marketing.
If you are interested in partnering with us please get in touch.
“The Working-Class Creatives Database responds to a need which is too often overlooked in the arts; that of the barriers facing working-class artists from getting on in our sector. They are instrumental in initiating much-needed change that will see the art world become more inclusive and reflect the society it purports to serve. I often search their database in my research, it is a vital resource for any arts professional working in culture today. That they have got this far on so little financial resource is remarkable and I am excited to see what they will achieve with further support.” Beth Hughes, Curator, Arts Council Collection.