Female Entrepreneurs in the Arts Need Funding

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The Number 1 Priority for Female Entrepreneurs in the Arts is Funding

One hundred women took part in our survey aimed at female entrepreneurs in the arts run as part of Global Entrepreneurship Week. The results of the Thames Valley Arts and Business Collision survey in partnership with Female Arts, are in.

The survey reveals what women need to start and grow a successful business in the arts. Women were asked what they most need support with:

A third of women prioritised help with funding sources and applications.
One in six female entrepreneurs said that small business advice is most important.
One in eight women said mentoring is their top need.

The number one priority was funding (35% of people surveyed) compared to loans (3%) which indicates that the majority of female entrepreneurs want non-repayable subsidies - either full or partial funding, that will enable them to start a new enterprise, while reducing their personal financial risk.

Affordable Childcare Will Encourage Women's Entrepreneurship in the Arts

The survey asked, What is the one thing that would be most effective to encourage women's entrepreneurship in the arts? the joint top answer was for affordable childcare including the need for creches in office environments. For those who had already started their own business, one in ten women expressed a need for more help with childcare. The survey did not distinguish between parents and non-parents so the need for affordable childcare may be even greater than indicated.

Lack of Government Support

When asked if women's entrepreneurship in the arts will increase in 2016, 35% said no. Some think this is due to government cuts. A respondent said The government doesn't appear to fully appreciate the contributions of the arts. Another talked of hardship due to further austerity while a female entrepreneur noted they are already cutting arts funding and women tend to lose out before men.

Government and public perception of the arts is important. The survey did not ask if their enterprise was their sole occupation, but a respondent commented that many see (arts enterprises) as a 'hobby'. Lack confidence to make it a "business"

Women Will Employ Women

Two-thirds of respondents thought that women's entrepreneurship in the arts will increase employment opportunities for women in 2016 and one person said, if women are given power over the work they make they will inevitably include other women in that process. Another female entrepreneur in the arts commented they hired a woman instead of an equally qualified man recently. While another respondent noted, more female arts leaders means more opportunities for female artists.

Visible & Diverse Female Entrepreneurs

The survey asked, What is the one thing that would be most effective to encourage women's entrepreneurship in the arts? the most popular answer (alongside childcare) was for there to be more visibility of successful female entrepreneurs and role models.

Respondents wanted more opportunities for women in the arts from working class backgrounds and to value diversity including Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) women and women with disabilities.

More Support for Older Women in the Arts

Many respondents said there should be more support for the over 30's with one person pointing out almost all entrepreneur support schemes in place are for the under 25's. It could be argued that it is gender discrimination to focus entrepreneur schemes on women under 25 years old. Many women need this support in their thirties or later, due to starting families later than previous generations and changing career / wanting to work flexibly after having children.

The Need for More Female Entrepreneurs

The UK would have an additional one million entrepreneurs if women set up businesses at the same rate as men, according to the Business is Great campaign. This government campaign says that fewer women than men believe that they have the skills to start a business, so there is a need to promote women's entrepreneurship.

The survey asked if women's entrepreneurship in the arts increased through 2015 and over half believed it had, with two-thirds of respondents thinking women's entrepreneurship will increase in 2016, so the perception is that more women will start their own arts business in the future.

Tom Clark from Thames Valley Arts and Business Collision said that the purpose of the female entrepreneurs in the arts survey was “to identify the real situation of women's entrepreneurship in the arts and practical steps that could be taken for improvement. He said that the results will be shared with the GEW, Arts Council and business organisations.

We asked what action will be taken as a result of the survey answers. Tom wants to “push for resources to be made available as per the outcome of the survey i.e. mentoring and networking groups.

Global Entrepreneurship Week ran from 16 - 22 November 2015.

(c) Wendy Thomson @topgirls for Female Arts 2015

Thames Valley Arts and Business Collision #TVABC http://padlet.com/tvabc/home

Further Reading

Business is Great Campaign http://www.greatbusiness.gov.uk/women-in-enterprise/

Global Entrepreneurship Week http://uk.gew.co/

Women's Social Entrepreneurship in the UK 2015 (pdf) http://westarteurope.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/UK_WEB.pdf

#WEStart mapping Women's social entrepreneurship in Europe @EuropeanWomen http://westarteurope.org/resources/

Business, Improvement, Training, Education http://www.bbite.co.uk/

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