From YouTube to Spotify, do digital platforms offer new opportunities for “creators of colour” to break into cultural and creative industries? How might digital platforms reproduce, complicate or challenge the effects of racism in the sector? And what challenges do creators experience when using those digital platforms?

This Innovation Fund project will explore these questions through case studies of aspiring workers in three sectors: journalism, creative writing (fiction/poetry), and music, focusing on selected areas of creativity within each domain.

The aim is to identify key changes in how people of colour negotiate and challenge racism in key sectors that shape public culture, knowledge and experience.

It combines three methods:

  • interviews with creators of colour about their attitudes and practices
  • textual analysis of their creative output
  • analysis of the interfaces and processes of key digital cultural platforms, highlighting the opportunities and constraints of those platforms and associated algorithms.

This project will inform Digit’s Research Theme of ‘Reconnecting the Disconnected: new channels of voice and representation’.

Note: in this research summary, the researchers use the term creators of colour to refer to people of colour who are actively involved in content creation of a kind that may gain them employment in the cultural and creative industries (whether as primary creators or in related roles such as technical operators, marketing and promotion, etc). When using the terms creators of colour and people of colour, the researchers also recognise the specific and nuanced ways that Black, Asian and racialised people identify

Research questions

  • How are creators of colour using digital platforms to produce and circulate acts of creativity in ways that might enable them to access paid work in the cultural and creative industries?
  • To what degree do creators of colour intend for such uses of digital platforms to counter and combat patterns of racial and ethnic exclusion that have been shown to characterise those industries (including their intersections with other forms of exclusion, based on gender, class, sexuality and disability)?
  • How do the affordances of those digital communication technologies both enable and constrain creators of colour in their efforts to reach and build audiences, and combat and counter (intersectional) racial and ethnic exclusion?

Researchers

Principal Investigator: Dr Francesca Sobande (Cardiff University)

Co-investigators: Dr Anamik Saha (Goldsmiths, University of London)

Digit team member: Professor David Hesmondhalgh (University of Leeds)