National Museums Liverpool (NML) is backing a national campaign highlighting the plight of young, marginalised people struggling to break into the arts.

Today, NML, along with other arts organisations, creative companies and universities around the UK have come together to highlight the challenges and create a more inclusive pathway for those struggling to get into the creative industries. This significant campaign has been created by Arts Emergency, the award-winning mentoring charity and support network.

Using a giant box installation – ‘Break in Case of Arts Emergency’ – Arts Emergency spotlight the devastating statistics on the proportion of young people from traditionally underrepresented backgrounds within the arts sector. It has been noted that only 2.7% of people working in museums, galleries and libraries are from Black, Asian or minority Ethnic backgrounds. By placing the boxes outside venues around the UK, this campaign will reveal such facts of the barriers young people face, and the disastrous impact this will have on UK culture.

The boxes will display artworks from Arts Emergency’s young people, showcasing some of the incredible raw talents which are at risk of being excluded from the arts. The accompanying text calls for viewers to help ‘break the glass’ by joining the Network. The box launches at 8am at the Museum of London, where young people will unveil their work, before it tours several venues chosen to symbolise the UK arts industry across the UK. It will arrive at its new home at World Museum in Liverpool in time for NML’s Spring/Summer 2022 season launch on the evening of Wednesday 13 October.

David Watson, Executive Director of Audiences & Media at National Museums Liverpool said:

“We are in unusually challenging times, but more so for our youth who are entering the workforce in a very volatile landscape. The arts can traditionally be a very static and closed off sector. It’s not a progressive as we’d like it to be. The young voices, their energy and input will create the positive change we so desperately need. The arts are not exclusive for anyone, and it is our duty – those of us already in the sector – to shine a spotlight on the challenges particularly felt by the marginalised young people and those from low-income households face.

We need to reignite that spark and squash their internal doubt around the creative fields and the sense of belonging. Museums are places for everyone and the youth are central to our vision. We need to make sure the industry is for everyone and not just a select few.”

Local artist Helen Hale, from Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU), is an illustrator who specialises in creating objects for the purpose of photo narratives. Her work will be shown on the box which will be outside World Museum, Liverpool. She said:

“I aim to surprise and make people laugh, by making them as absurd as possible. The narratives usually involve everyday scenarios, in order to bring a bit of excitement into mundane activities.”

Other organisations lending their support to the campaign include The British Film Institute (BFI), Central St Martins / University of the Arts London, Pan MacMillan publishers, the Eden Project, Framestore Studio, Get Up, Stand Up – The Bob Marley Musical, Avalon and The Agency, photographer Rankin, Whitworth Gallery Manchester, FACT Liverpool, Director Ian Pons Jewell, Boy Blue Entertainment, Vertigo Releasing, ATC Management and ATC Live and creative agency FCB Inferno. The activation is also being supported and shared by LinkedIn.

Along with these iconic creative organisations, NML is showing support by committing to the charity’s code of practice and using social media to call on teams and followers to join the Arts Emergency Network as volunteers or donors. The campaign has a simple call to action which will be kickstarted on social media by the organisations, celebrities and 7,000 existing Network members: asking users to tag those people who helped them make their breakthrough with the hashtag #mybreakthrough and sign up to share their time or regularly donate to open the door to young Talent.

NML is proud to support Arts Emergency on this really important cause. The arts sector prides itself in being about the people, and discourse around diversity and inclusion has never been more needed; however, the figures from Arts Emergency reveals a real imbalance that needs to be addressed.

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