21 October 2022, 14:07

4 out of 10 parents and carers are thinking of leaving their careers in classical music, according to a new report
4 out of 10 parents and carers are thinking of leaving their careers in classical music, according to a new report.

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Inflexibility, gendered work structures, and pay penalties are all named as things with the potential to push parents and carers out of the classical music industry.

4 out of 10 parents and carers are thinking of leaving their careers in classical music due to challenging working practices, according to a new study by Parents and Carers in Performing Arts (PiPA) and Birkbeck, University of London.

The new report, titled A Bittersweet Symphony, surveyed 410 participants from the music industry and conducted focus groups and in-depth interviews.

Its findings highlight the struggle that those in the classical music sector face when having to balance work and supporting children, elderly or sick family members.

Freelance women report the lowest median income of £12,000 from music (versus £20,000 for male freelancers)
Freelance women report the lowest median income of £12,000 from music (versus £20,000 for male freelancers).

Picture:
Getty


The study said that self-employed women – over 85% of whom have parenting and caring responsibilities – reported a pay penalty of £8,000.

Women with caring responsibilities were also found to be twice as likely to turn down work due to highly gendered work and caregiving structures in classical music

“There is greater impact on women, who are likely to work and earn less, and those without social capital,” the report says.

Read more: ‘It’s time to address the gender imbalance in opera’ – meet the singers and directors of SWAP’ra

Also highlighted, are the logistics and financial demands arising from touring and working away from home, the lack of affordable, flexible, ad-hoc childcare for working musicians, and the lack of support mechanisms within the classical industry.

The report calls on industry leaders to create a classical music sector that works for everyone. It highlights flexible working, more advanced scheduling, and sharing best-practice within the industry as key next steps.

PiPA will be bringing together a working group comprising of Black Lives in Music, Help Musicians, Independent Society of Musicians, Liverpool Philharmonic, Musicians’ Union, Phonographic Performance Limited, Royal Opera House, Scottish Opera and SWAP’ra to develop a best practice charter to address the challenges raised by ‘Bittersweet Symphony’.

“Only by re-evaluating established working practices, can we begin to tackle wellbeing impacts, inclusion and diversity, and potential loss of talent,” the report says.

“We need to jointly craft sustainable, considered and flexible practices, HR policies and processes, to address the talent haemorrhage.”