Art Works - Arts Employment for people with disability

This report captures the results from national research into employment levels, barriers and strategies around employment in the arts for people with disability.

Produced in response to a key focus area of the National Arts and Disability Strategy, the research was funded by the Australian Government through the Department of Regional Australia, Local Government, Arts and Sport, managed by Arts Access Australia and undertaken by DADAA Inc.

Download: docArt Works10.26 MB

DownloadpdfArt Works2.17 MB

Foreword

A lack of inclusive and accessible employment and leadership opportunities are some of the most significant barriers remaining for people with disability to be able to engage fully and equally in Australian society.

We believe, however, that the arts and cultural sector has the potential to lead the way in the area of inclusive employment practices for people with disability. This is why Arts Access Australia was thrilled to partner with DADAA Inc on this ground-breaking research into the current status, barriers and strategies for employment in the arts for people with disability.

Employment was identified as one of the key priority areas of the National Arts and Disability Strategy (2009), as well as through a number of national consultations run by Arts Access Australia over the past five years.

The research aimed to set the benchmark for arts sector employment for people with disability so that we can continue to map our progress in this area for years to come, as well as provide practical data, recommendations and case studies in order to be able to act as a resource for the Australian arts and cultural sector.

We're not surprised by the results that demonstrate that people with disability still face barriers to employment. Nor are we surprised that many arts and cultural organisations already seem to be demonstrating good practice in this area. But there's a lot of work that still needs to be done to harness the creative and professional capacity of our entire workforce.

Arts Access Australia looks forward to working with colleagues and partners across Australia to continue to demonstrate and grow the sector's commitment to access and inclusion at all levels. We will collaborate with both disability employment services and with arts and cultural organisations to promote the arts as a viable career path for artists with disability.

We also hope to seek additional funding to enable ongoing benchmarking of the levels of, and attitudes towards, employment of people with disability in the arts and cultural sector.

Emma Bennison
CEO, Arts Access Australia

Executive Summary

This report captures the results from national research into employment levels, barriers and strategies around employment in the arts for people with disability.

Produced in response to a key focus area of the National Arts and Disability Strategy, the research was funded by the Australian Government through the Department of Regional Australia, Local Government, Arts and Sport, managed by Arts Access Australia and undertaken by DADAA Inc.

A review of existing literature looked at research and reports into general employment and arts-specific employment for people with disability. The review showed low employment levels for people with disability, including in the arts.

Online surveys were then developed and sent to three key groups: arts and cultural organisations (238 responses); artists and arts workers with disability (141 responses); and disability employment services (51 responses).

Key findings

Arts and cultural organisations are well-placed to be inclusive employers.

However, despite significant interest from people with disability wanting to work in the arts, and despite significant levels of unpaid or volunteer activity, actual employment levels are low.

Nearly 60% of all arts and cultural organisations do not currently employ (or do not know if they employ) a person with disability.

More people with disability participate on committees and boards of arts organisations than as employees or artists.

Less than 40% of arts and cultural organisations have a current Disability Action Plan in place.

Just over 50% of people with disability working in the arts are self-employed.

Just over 50% of people with disability working in the arts work part-time.

Significant barriers remain for people with disability, including employer concerns around additional resourcing and widespread discrimination against people with disability.

The biggest barriers for people with disability working in the arts are:

  • Limited job opportunities in the arts for people with and without disability
  • Disability support services not promoting a career in the arts for people with disability
  • Discrimination.

Key strategies suggested to improve employment opportunities include:

  • Increased graduate traineeships
  • Mentorship programs
  • Sector-wide disability awareness training.

It is important to note that the sample is likely to have been distorted in favour of respondents with a prior interest in this area, and that the real statistics are probably much lower.