Creative Lives: Dismantling Ageism in the Professional Arts World


Insights from online symposia involving University of Sheffield researchers and older artists from around the UK.

“Ageism and intersecting systems of discrimination pervade the arts industry. As the following report shows, from negative attitudes and stereotypes perpetuated by media, curators, funders, art schools and organisations, to age barriers on calls for work, to the inaccessibility of networks, to the failure of commissions to accommodate other life commitments, older artists are discriminated against at every turn. COVID-19 and government responses to it have exacerbated ageism in the UK (World Economic Forum 2020). The pandemic has also hit the UK arts and entertainment sector particularly hard. This sector ‘has been one of the areas worst affected by the coronavirus pandemic. The decline in revenues and the number of workers furloughed over the past few months is second only to the accommodation and food sector’ (Lords Library 2020). This is an alarming combination of factors facing older artists in the creative professions and requires a comprehensive response in return.

It is for this reason that the Creative Lives network brought together a range of researchers, arts organisations and older artists to share their insights on ageism. The report that follows is a culmination of conversations that took place across two symposia in 2020. It outlines the legal context of ageism in the UK, summarises the key issues identified by the Creative Lives network and presents some recommendations for implementing substantial, long-term changes that positively transform the creative professions and ultimately older people’s lives.”

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subject terms

Aging & Longevity

Aging & Longevity > Ageism & Advocacy

related organizations

Arts & Humanities Knowledge Exchange

University of Sheffield

resource type





Research England