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The role of higher education in sustainable creative careers: exploring UK theatre graduates and theatre careers

de Bernard, M., Comunian, R., Jewell, S. ORCID:, Salvador, E. and O'Brien, D. (2023) The role of higher education in sustainable creative careers: exploring UK theatre graduates and theatre careers. Industry and Higher Education. ISSN 2043-6858

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1177/09504222231186366


This paper reflects on the systematic interconnections between creative workers and higher education institutions (HEIs). Despite the latter representing key intermediaries in creative industries’ development and creative workers’ career trajectories, the relationship between the two has rarely been framed in a relational and systemic framework. To do so, we chose the UK theatre sector as the case study and adopted a mixed methodology: UK Higher Education Statistical Agency quantitative data, which informed us on the employment state of workers 6 months after graduation, were combined with 21 semi-structured interviews with actors and actresses to understand the complexity of their relationship with HEIs. HEIs emerge as the initial door to paid jobs and professional networks for graduates and as employers for those in the later stages of their careers: the lack of formal ways to access jobs and the precarious working conditions for performers make hence HEIs a crucial force in shaping workers’ careers. Furthermore, HE remains throughout the career of theatre workers an important part of their portfolio, providing reliable income and more stable working patterns when needed. The paper concludes with the findings’ policy implications and the future role of HEIs in creative and cultural ecosystems.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Politics, Economics and International Relations > Economics
ID Code:112481
Publisher:Sage Publications


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