ARC Stockton is to host a Weston Jerwood Creative Bursaries Fellow as part of a programme to get more people from working class or lower socio-economic backgrounds into cultural careers.

Across the UK there will be 50 exciting opportunities to develop a career in the arts, with each role playing an important part in the host organisation.

ARC is welcoming applications for the role of Artist of Change - salary £20,000, full time for a 12 month period - which will involve helping ARC to create art with and for their community.

Even before the pandemic wreaked havoc on career prospects in the arts, those from middle class backgrounds were 2.5 times more likely to end up in creative occupations than their working class peers.

This situation has not improved since records began in 2014.

Social mobility is a greater issue in the cultural sector and wider creative industries than across the economy as a whole.

The wider creative industries have created over 300,000 jobs over the past five years, yet the number of creative workers from working class backgrounds has increased by just 33,000.

Just as with the impact of the 2008 financial crisis, it is expected that those who are already finding it difficult to make their way in the arts will be the worst hit by the impact of Covid-19.

The Weston Jerwood Creative Bursaries aim to redress the balance by funding 50 paid, year-long artistic and creative Fellowships as well as an organisational development programme.

This is the fourth edition of the programme, which has been running for over 10 years and has 125 alumni to date, many of whom have forged successful careers.

This edition is the largest yet, with support from Arts Council England’s Transforming Leadership Programme, Garfield Weston Foundation, Art Fund, Arts Council of Wales, Creative Scotland, and PRS Foundation.

Lilli Geissendorfer, director of Jerwood Arts, said: "I’m delighted that ARC Stockton has been selected to host a Weston Jerwood Creative Bursaries Fellow. ARC applied to be part of the programme before Covid-19 had been identified, so it is heartening that making their organisation more diverse and inclusive is still high on their agenda despite the additional challenges they are facing. It speaks to the resilience I have been inspired by from all corners of the arts and cultural sector in recent months to find the silver linings in the bleakest of times and commit to creating a stronger sector that everyone will benefit from."

Daniel Mitchelson, Producer at ARC, said: "We're excited to be working with Weston Jerwood Creative Bursaries to host this new role, and we can't wait to see the impact that the Artist of Change will have on our staff, community and artists."

The Weston Jerwood Creative Bursaries 2020-2022 programme is designed and produced by Jerwood Arts. It is funded and supported by Arts Council England’s Transforming Leadership Fund, Garfield Weston Foundation, Art Fund, Arts Council of Wales, The National Lottery through Creative Scotland, British Council, Jerwood Arts and PRS Foundation.

In addition to the role of Weston Jerwood Creative Bursaries Fellow, ARC is also inviting applications from artists for a freelance contract - fee £10,000 - to be delivered on a flexible, part-time basis over 12 months as part of their Artist of Change programme, exploring what artistic leadership in an arts centre, committed to creating positive social change, should look like.