Social Mobility

Heidi Keston

Social mobility is the movement of individuals and groups within or between a system of hierarchy. High social mobility promotes social cohesion and democratic participation as prospects of upward mobility reduces economic dissatisfaction.  It also increases life satisfaction and wellbeing of the population as gaining socio-economic status generally causes people to fare better. Furthermore, social mobility is important for economic growth as it allows development of talents and innovations from those from lower socio-economic backgrounds. The creative arts are important for increasing social mobility. Children with access to arts and culture are more assured in their creative abilities. They are confident in challenging ideas and experimenting with new ones. The arts fuel innovation and help children become active members of society who incite and bring about change. Research has shown that children insufficient access to the arts experience detriments to their education and economic status, while those with access to the arts are more resilient, have better health, do better in school, are more politically active, are more likely to go to university, and are more likely to get a job and to keep it.

Creative People and Places is a programme that was developed by Arts Council England. Their aim is to help people take part in art experiences by bringing it to areas where people are less involved in the arts and culture. The Winter Lights event in Hounslow Town Centre is one of the many pieces of participatory art funded by this programme. The Winter Lights, which is now an annual event, sees hundreds of people of all ages work with the outdoor arts company Same Sky to make beautiful lanterns. These participants then partake in a large-scale parade which is followed by a performance. Participatory art such as this provides access to art and culture and all the benefits that were previously discussed. It encourages social mobility as it brings artwork to communities which were previously deprived of it.

The Arts for Every Child Report