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Supporters share #MyBreakthrough stories

As part of our ongoing #BreakTheGlass campaign, we asked people to tell us who helped them break into creative work. And social media erupted into hundreds of heartwarming awards speeches!

This week celebrities, Network members and even some former mentees took to social media to shout out the people who opened the doors for them when they were at the beginning of their career. Time and again we read how important support, encouragement and invitations are in a sector built on who-you-know networks.

The stories, thanks and praise opened up great discussions about the lack of opportunities, and the fact that many 'leg-ups' (funded arts programmes, higher education grants and the like) no longer exist - making it harder than ever for young people without connections.

Tweet by @rebeccapeyton that reads "I (green heart emoji) Chris for so many reasons, but his honesty about meeting @DaveGorman v early in his standup career & the importance of that professional friendship is one of my fave things about him. Lucky breaks are lucky, and they are easier to access for some than others. @artsemergency" quoting a tweet by @mrchrisaddison that reads: "Lovely @DaveGroman gave me #MyBreakthrough when he told me my jokes were good, explained the circuit to me and gave me a bunch of contacts. But it's tons harder for people from a working class background to #BreakTheGlass. You can help by joining the @artsemergency Network."
Tweet by @schafersam that reads: "I can never thank @JosieLong and @WillHodgson enouch for giving time and space to a poor disabled kid on benefits. The impact of having a professional take me seriously and treat me as a peer is incalculable. Having someone welcome me into a world I didn't feel part of."
Tweet by @michaelsheen that read: "My teacher @Dramaman6 gave me #MyBreakthrough when he encouraged me to audition for my local youth theatre & again the next year when I didn't get in! Join me in tagging the people who supported your breakthrough and help #BreakTheGlass by joining the @ArtsEmergency Network."
Screenshot of a tweet by @laurahavlin that reads"Meeting @rankinphoto on a shoot in Manchester when I was 21, where I asked him all about magazines, led to my first introduction to Dazed editors. While using that small break to build a career was *not* easy, especially financially, so much of my current network came from that"
Tweet by @dionnekitching that reads: "I've been trying to think about who this was for me, but realistically nobody did until I was much older. I had no idea how to find work or make connections, even after my degree! I would've killed for something like @artsemergency when I was younger! #MyBreakthrough"
Tweet from @allison_sadler that reads: "No one. Other than my mom. Says it all really... being black mixed race 'and' working class meant the doors were well and truly shut to me. And still very much are in lots of ways. No choice but to #BreakTheGlass myself #MyBreakthrough"
Tweet by @stxwelsh that reads: "At the outset of my career @lexingtonia taught me that young people from non-traditional backgrounds in the cultural sector didn't need to conform, they could be confident in their abilities & bring desperately needed alternative approaches. Help @artsemergency to #BreakTheGlass!"
Tweet by @RaeOfTheBooks that reads "I had the extreme privilege of a bursary to private school & a grant for uni. Without a grant I wouldn't have taken the 'risk' of aiming for a career in Psychology. From a working class family, the financial debt would've scared me. Heavily encouraged by my mum to #BreakTheGlass
Tweet by @Hev_Twonsend that reads: "coming fro a working class background I never even considered the possibility of working in the creative sector - nobody in my family worked in the arts/humanities so a network like this would have been INVALUABLE #BreakTheGlass"
Tweet by Daisy Buchanan that reads: "I didn't think you could be a working writer without 'connections'. When I started writing, I didn't have any. I got lucky. @artsemergency is taking luck out of the equation. We URGENTLY need to #BreakTheGlass. The arts are for ALL of us."

Both the heartwarming, inspiring stories of generosity and the tougher stories of solitary struggle and delayed starts gave us so much food for thought, and showed us - and we hope people reading along - how urgent it is for our work to continue to grow and reach more people who would otherwise lack access.

Arts and humanities take up has been dropping across GCSE, A-Level and university for the past ten years. The total number of humanities students at UK universities has fallen by around 40,000 over the last decade. Young people are seeing fewer and fewer open paths into the cultural sector. A creative career must seem further away than ever when debt, unpaid labour, and insider knowledge are still seen as prerequisites for entry.

The work we do to challenge this is vital, so if you can give £5 monthly to support our programmes, please do.

Tweet by @realmatbaynton that reads "It is as hard as ever for young working class people to pursue a career in the arts. That's what makes the work of @artsemergency so vital, providing a support network and mentoring to match the privileges others enjoy."