We are a collective of black women who have actively worked in the creative media/arts industries for over 20 years, so we fully understand the effects of working in a space that does not consider the voices of women let alone those from BAME backgrounds as relevant.
Anxiety in the Arts was formed as a direct response to the COVID-19 health crisis, for many individuals let alone female creatives, the future can be daunting and uncertain, increasing the mental health risk and isolationist pressures faced by those in quarantine lockdown. Our project aims to create a national dialogue and outreach by targeting the voices often excluded or underrepresented from the conversation – women from ethnic minorities.
Founded in May 2020, Anxiety and the Arts is a community interest project helping women & girls from BAME communities & those suffering from anxiety and panic disorders.
In a recent study conducted on members of the creative industries over 36% of participants stated that they suffered from anxiety as a direct result of their working environments with depression coming in second at 34%, over 60% of the participants in the study stated that they felt suicidal at some stage in their career.
Studies have shown there is a distinct lack of BAME representatives in the creative workplace, especially in leadership roles. For example, according to research conducted by McKinsey & Company, 97% of the industry’s advertising and media CEOs are white, in comparison to only 8% of senior positions accounted for BAME representation.
The knock-on effect is that lack of reflection. Because BAME communities don’t see themselves in the workforce, the support structures are either limited or don’t exist. This leads to many believing they are alone in their struggles or becoming disillusioned, marginalised, excluded, and dissatisfied with their chosen profession where their values, contribution or concerns goes unrecognised. This (along with many other factors, including the cultural environment of the workforce and workplace bias) has contributed to the decline in mental health wellbeing amongst BAME professionals.
This is reflected in recent studies where female professionals who have identified as BAME, 87% have experienced workplace bullying or have been in environments where sexual harassment has occurred. In the Looking Glass Report of 2019, 63% of survey respondents reported they had considered leaving the industry due to concerns about their mental health. Some have contemplated a career-change to protect their wellbeing, meaning any attempts to foster a diverse talent pipeline are hampered by the experiences of BAME workers.
We help by utilising avenues within the creative community to provide access and knowledge as constructive tools to combat the disorder for women who want to pursue or have existing careers in film and TV.
With the creative industries the fastest growing sector of the UK economy (contributing to over £42bn a year), this project has been set up as a strong argument for diverse representation and positive mental health advocation for the workplace.
Anxiety in the Arts wants to be an effective counterpoint to the current market, helping to bridge the gap between the creative industries, mental health service providers and BAME representation, focussing our endeavours in increasing female representation and implementing structures (both personally and professionally) to aide their career and creative passions. These structures include, for example, workplaces adopting mental health classes as part of their work culture or BAME professionals being assigned a support worker on behalf of Anxiety and the Arts to talk through their mental health struggles.
We are raising funds to support a 6-week programme run quarterly to help women from BAME backgrounds gain free access to mental health care, free creative media training courses including leadership skills and holistic therapies from BAME therapists in the local community.
We want to effect change here in the UK's creative industries please join us in making a change!