Voices

Greater than 11% launches fundraiser to support creative and non-binary women

Crowdfunder aims to support creatives through one-off grants in the midst of the coronavirus crisis.

Nicola Kemp

Editorial Director

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Greater than 11% is launching a fundraising drive to raise money to support funds for creative women and those identifying as non-binary. The team aims to raise £20,000 to fund 20 grants to support creative and non-binary women in the midst of the crisis.

The organisation, which is on a mission to contribute to a more equal and diverse creative industries within years, not decades, is taking action as the pandemic continues, a situation which has seen women be disproportionately impacted. 

Renee Vaughan Sutherland, Founder of Greater than 11%, explains that the grants are a response to the stories she has heard from women across the creative industries in lockdown. Sharing how an artist had told her that she was “frozen in fear about how to generate” income, she felt compelled to act.

“I have heard so much from how women are juggling, just about managing to do the home-schooling and their jobs, let alone find time to be creative,” she adds. Pointing to the way that caring responsibilities have disproportionately fallen on women, Vaughan Sutherland believes the crisis has exacerbated gender inequality. 

“Within the Greater than 11% community I have seen a huge impact on women,” she explains. “Some creatives have thrived, but for others there are huge financial and mental strains.”

Ultimately a £1,000 grant isn't life changing, but it can be a game-changer at a challenging time.

Renee Vaughan Sutherland

Mind the gap

The name Greater than 11% came from the statistic in May 2018 that only 11% of women held the title of Creative Director in the UK Media and Communications industry. That figure was even more severe for women of colour, landing at around 3%. A lack of diversity which is reflected across the broader creative industries and may well increase further as a result of the coronavirus crisis. Research from Creative Equals and Pregnant Then Screwed suggests that women have been disproportionately impacted by redundancies. 

Vaughan Sutherland explains that a big part of the project will involve outreach to ensure that those who don’t usually have access to grants are aware of the scheme and how to apply. “A big part of this will be us going down to local hubs up and down the country. Often grants are complicated to apply for; this will be very straightforward,” she adds.

Creating space

As a freelance Creative Director and Producer and a lecturer at the University of Essex, Vaughan Sutherland has heard many stories of the challenges facing female and non-binary creatives in the midst of the crisis. One of the driving forces behind her fundraising drive is to support creatives in getting the space they need to achieve their goals.

“Being given a grant legitimises the time it takes to create and be creative,” she explains. The grants are available for everything from a piece of software to investing in childcare to create the time and space to work in the first place. 

Bridging the coronavirus confidence gap

The project comes amid a creative crisis of confidence in the industry, particularly for freelancers who have seen work paused at very short notice. “A grant means that someone has invested in you and you feel recognised,” she adds.

Vaughan Sutherland acknowledges the power of grants having received one herself from the Arts Council early on in her career. "Ultimately a £1,000 grant isn't life changing, but it can be a game-changer at a challenging time," she explains. 

Pointing to research that one in five jobs in the creative industry could be under threat, she warns that many creative people are at risk of “falling through the gaps” of government support and funding.

“The creative industries are completely disparate in terms of income. So, if you can afford to donate please do. It is really important that we all come together to support those who need it.”

To find out more and donate, visit Greater than 11%’s Crowdfunder page.