Mark Banks, University of Leicester 


I’m a sociologist with a general interest in the cultural industries. Over the years I’ve published various articles on aspects of work and employment in music, fashion and design, and a book called The Politics of Cultural Work (2007). Usually I write about the different kinds of values, goods or ethical commitments workers try to pursue, while revealing some of the difficulties and problems inherent in labour markets, and in wider policy contexts, that might prevent them attaining these. I recently co-edited a book with Rosalind Gill and Stephanie Taylor called Theorizing Cultural Work: Labour, Continuity and Change in the Cultural and Creative Industries (Routledge, 2014), written about ‘being in the zone’, art schools and working in jazz, and am currently assembling vague thoughts about cultural work and social justice.


James Bennett, Royal Holloway, University of London


Dr James Bennett is Reader in Television & Digital Culture at Royal Holloway, University of London. He is the co-editor of Television & Digital Media (Duke UP) and his work has been published in Cinema Journal, Screen, Convergence and Celebrity Studies Journal. His research examines digital television and culture, production cultures and public service broadcasting. He recently completed a 2 year AHRC project on multiplatforming public service broadcasting, and is currently editing a collection entitled Media Independence (Routledge). In 2014 he will begin an ERC funded project on tapeless workflow and digital television production cultures.


Lucy Brown, Creative and Cultural Skills


I am the Research Officer at Creative and Cultural Skills, with a remit for policy and communications. Key areas of work include making the case for the value of creative education, exploring alternative approaches to education (from fostering commitment to high-quality apprenticeships to embedding creativity throughout the curriculum), and managing an ongoing project on the effects of economic downturn on employment practices in the creative sector. I have a particular interest in issues around fair pay and working conditions for those in part-time and temporary employment, and am interested in the ways in which the education system, as well as employers, might perpetuate the idea that periods of unpaid work in the arts are necessary or inevitable.


Bridget Conor, King’s College London


I am interested in theories of creative labour, subjective accounts of work and definitions of Œcreativity¹ in particular cultural sectors, and the dynamics of inequality in media and cultural industries. In particular, I have focused on screen production and I have conducted research on screenwriting as creative labour, the growth of the New Zealand film industry and networks of transnational production work. My book Screenwriting: Creative Labour and Professional Practice is published by Routledge (2014) and I am currently co-editing two collections, one on gender and creative labour (with Rosalind Gill and Stephanie Taylor) and the other on international production studies (with Vicki Mayer and Miranda Banks).


Sharon Elliott, BECTU


In connection with BECTU’s Say No to Exploitation in TV campaign, we recently published a selection of findings from our survey in this area. More information can be found in the news tab on this page:


Joanna Figiel, City University


I am a doctoral candidate at the Centre for Culture and Policy Management, City University London. My research focusses on unpaid work and internships, precarity and policy within the creative and cultural sectors. I recently co-authored a literature review with Dr. Sophie Hope for Artquest on internship-related reports, guidelines and policy documents since 2008. I also carried out, together with Dr. Stevphen Shukaitis, a research project on making a living as a creative worker, Metropolitan Factory. I’m a member of the editorial collective of ephemera: theory & politics in organization and I am involved in the actions of The Precarious Workers Brigade, a UK-based group of precarious workers in culture and education.


Ros Gill, King’s College London


My work started out looking at experiences of work in broadcasting, but in the last 15 years I have been more focussed upon freelance/ self-employed workers in the cultural sector. I have been involved in 3 main projects – two of them were European funded and focussed on ‘new media’ workers – mainly digital artists, web designers etc. The third looked across a variety of sectors including film and TV post-production, advertising and computer games. I’m especially interested in how people manage lives characterised by risk, uncertainty and precariousness – as well as long hours and low pay. I’m also very interested in the persistence of inequalities in the cultural field: why do women make up only 7% of film directors, screenwriters and people employed in the games industry? Why are media and cultural industries so White, even when they are concentrated in a diverse and multi-racial city like London? Overall my research places questions about equality and social justice at the heart of scholarship about the cultural and creative industries. I am Professor of Cultural and Social Analysis at City University.


Isabelle Gutierrez, Musicians’ Union


The size and breadth of the UK music sector is unparalleled in Europe. However, behind this successful and visible veneer, musicians in the UK are working in many less glamorous roles often with precarious ‘portfolio’ careers marked by low income and uncertainty. The Working Musician research is based on almost 2,000 responses to a UK-wide survey, in-depth interviews with musicians and industry experts and data from a wide range of industry sources. The research assesses and explains, for the first time, the pay musicians receive, how they derive their income, and the pressures and challenges they face to earn a living from their craft. It aims to provide a sound evidence base for policy makers, musicians, their representatives and the wider music industry in order to help shape an environment where the contributions and talent of a greater number of musicians are better recognised, sustained and rewarded. In this way, the UK can maintain and build on its major cultural standing in the world.


David Hesmondhalgh, University of Leeds


My main interest has been in quality of work in the cultural and creative industries. I led a research project, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, on this topic, and the results were published in a series of articles, and in a book called Creative Labour: Media Work in Three Cultural Industries, co-written with Sarah Baker. This drew on research on quality of work, but applied it to television, journalism and musical work. The book and the articles argue a) that such work is really important, because these are the workers who produce our information and entertainment; b) that there are really problematic conditions, especially for junior workers, but also for some older ones, and that ethnicity and gender can make things significantly worse; c) there are still spaces where the cultural industries offer rewarding jobs, especially where unions and other pressures for better working conditions have remained resilient.


Sophie Hope, Birkbeck College


Sophie Hope’s work inspects the politics and economics of critical art practices. She has worked as an independent curator, a writer and evaluator of public and socially engaged art and is a lecturer in arts policy, theory and practice the Media and Cultural Studies Department at Birkbeck, University of London. Sophie has developed practical research projects that explore the issues of turning your passion into your profession and the problems with ommissioning artists to effect change. Sophie is currently researching physical and emotional relationships to work, art and politics in the year 1984 and is co-writing a sitcom about art and regeneration.


Helen Kennedy, University of Leeds


My research has focused on work and working life in new media industries. Previous research, published in the book Net Work: Ethics and Values in Web Design, focused on the place of web standards and web accessibility in web design work. In the book I was keen to challenge the view that this sector is increasingly de-politicised and corroded, by highlighting the role played by ethics and values in web design work and by considering the role that standards play in relation to the quality of working life. I’m interested in debates about free labour and amateur economies (internships, user-generated content, the erosion of the professional / amateur distinction), especially the question of when the terms of participation in amateur economies are acceptable or unacceptable. I’ve written about spec work competitions in the design industries in relation to this question. My current research focuses on work in the social media data mining industries, and the work of data visualisers.


David Lee, University of Leeds


My work on cultural labour has largely been focused on the experiences of freelancers in the independent television industry in the UK. I have recently published findings from this research in various media-communications journals. More recently I have also been undertaking work on the relationship between the configuration of creative work and higher education. I am concerned with the persistent problem of unequal access to the cultural industries, related to broader questions around social justice in relation to creative sectors. I am also concerned how individuals manage their precarious working conditions and the relationship between cultural labour conditions and the symbolic content produced.


Paul Long, Birmingham City University


I had a previous life working in the music industries that was one spark for a long-term interest in the specific qualities of creative work and the part played by workers in local place-making and cultural life. Having worked in The Birmingham School of Media for over a decade, I have an interest in the relationship between vocational education and media careers, particularly for the individuals from the kind of communities and backgrounds I’ve been teaching and balancing a critique of creative work with an acknowledgement of its attractions. Work in knowledge exchange programmes has afforded me a chance to develop relationships with local cultural workers and lately an involvement in a study of cultural intermediation and the connection of ‘hard-to-reach’ communities with the creative economy. Most recently I’ve been exploring the working lives of film producers, their roles, experiences and future prospects in the post-New Labour policy landscape.


Melissa Nisbett, University of Leeds


My interests focus on cultural policy and arts management. I am just beginning to look specifically at cultural work as a strand of my research, drawing upon my professional experience as an arts administrator. At present, I am writing an article on cultural leadership (co-authored with Ben Walmsley, University of Leeds). This paper explores the role, significance and impact of charisma, and its relationship to ethics and morality in arts management. This follows on from previous research on cultural elites, where I have argued that specific senior figures in the arts have the power to influence and determine cultural policy. I am also currently working on a paper on gender inequality in the creative industries (co-authored with Kate Oakley), which examines the inconsistencies between cultural policy documents and rhetoric, and the working reality of women within cultural professions.


Kate Oakley, University of Leeds


My interest in cultural work springs from two sources; an interest in self-employed cultural workers or entrepreneurs, and an interest in questions of equality and representation within cultural labour markets. I began writing about cultural entrepreneurs in the late 1990s and have returned to this topic to look at the careers of fine arts graduates over several decades in work I carried out for NESTA in 2008. I’m also interested in the policy regime which governs cultural work and the assumptions behind it. My writings on this topic include: working in festivals; New Labour’s policy on the cultural workforce; the links between higher education and cultural work and the conflicts and strains of self-employment.


David Parker, Creative and Cultural Skills


I have been involved in research related to creative and cultural work since 1997 when I was in the research department at the BFI. My interest grew from 2004 when I started to commission and manage research for Creative Partnerships, based at Arts Council England. This programme drew on the features and skills associated with creative work in ways that could both reenergise and challenge the ‘standards’ dominated rhetoric teachers were accustomed to. It brokered long term partnerships between creative/cultural workers and schools. Over time it came to be interested in what constituted creative work and how it might be characterised and typologised in ways that teachers might find useful in their daily work. Part of this process included a series of literature reviews, in collaboration with Julian Sefton-Green, a number of which focused on developments within the creative industries and their associated workforces. Since 2012 I have been Research Director at Creative and Cultural Skills. I am interested in ways we can understand routes and pathways through these sectors, and mechanisms to open up access to a more diverse range of talent.


Neil Percival, Northumbria University


I worked in the TV industry for 15 years, mostly as a freelance factual producer/director. I helped to set up the TV Freelancers online community and was active in reporting freelancers’ working conditions, contributing to the TV Wrap workers’ rights campaign in 2005. I joined Northumbria University in 2007 and continued to research employment practices in the film and TV industry. In 2011 I carried out a comparative survey of attitudes to unpaid work amongst those working in the film and TV sectors. The survey returned 1,100 responses and suggested that while there are consistent but slight differences in attitude between the two sectors, there are closer correlations with levels of experience and with the funding model of the productions involved. It suggests that unpaid work is increasingly prevalent, especially in film, but that respondents believed in the efficacy of collective action to bring about change.


David Spencer, University of Leeds


I am interested in the economics and political economy of work. I have undertaken funded research for the DTI (now BiS), ESRC and HSE on job quality and job satisfaction. My interests include the conceptualisation and measurement of the quality of work. My research has led to numerous articles and a book called The Political Economy of Work (Routledge, 2009). The book and articles, among other things, address the intellectual history of ideas on work and argue for an interdisciplinary approach to the study of the nature and quality of work. I currently jointly lead a large EU FP7 project called, ‘Financialisation, Economy, Society and Sustainable Development’ (FESSUD) project, which covers the relationship between financialisation and well-being.


Stephanie Taylor, The Open University


My research has explored the meanings and values associated with creative work by the workers themselves. My empirical research (with Karen Littleton) has been with alumni and current students from London art colleges which function as points of entry and continuing connection to the contemporary creative industries and creative worlds. Recently, following arguments (e.g. by Ian Burkitt and John Clarke) that theorists of governmentality tend to overstate the totality of subjectification, I have become interested in the inconsistencies and contradictions around an identification as ‘creative’ and the ways in which creative making can be implicated with a turning away from work and career into a personal project of self-repair which functions to reinforce existing ‘deficit’ identities, perpetuating the disadvantage and under-representation of certain categories of creative workers, including women.


Julian Sefton-Green, London School of Economics & Political Science


The focus of some of my current work is on how young people learn to develop the identities and ‘meta- knowledge’ around what’s required to pursue work in creative and cultural industries. I’m interested in how young people of school-age mediate ambitions with ‘realistic’ advice and then often challenging journey and transitions from education and training into employment. I have explored routes into employment in digital industries.  I am particularly interested in how the work of intermediate non-formal learning institutions who work significantly with young people from marginalised communities can support entry into the labour market via non-traditional routes and often without conventional qualifications.


Natalie Wreyford, King’s College London


Natalie Wreyford is a doctoral researcher in the Department of Culture, Media and Creative Industries at King’s College London. Her research is borne of over 14 years working in the UK film industry, including as a Senior Development Executive at the UK Film Council. Natalie is exploring the scale of the gender imbalance in feature film screenwriting in the UK and attempting to unpack why the situation isn’t changing. Her empirical research examines the employment practices and working conditions to which screenwriters in the UK film industry are subject, and analyses how established industry discourses around gender and creativity might uphold, justify and reinforce patterns of inequality. Natalie has read, advised on and script edited hundreds of film scripts and worked with a hugely diverse range of screenwriters, producers and directors from Academy Award-winners to those trying to get their first break.