We warmly welcome the recent keynote Speech by Peter Bazalgette: Delivering on Diversity. He described it as one of the most important speeches he will make, as chair of the Arts Council, as he committed the Arts Council to a ‘fundamental shift in its approach to diversity’.
The take home message to all National Portfolio Organisations (NPO) is to pull up your socks and take responsibility for diversity. ‘From 2015, measured action on diversity in arts and culture goes mainstream’. Organisations have until 2018 to show ACE they are taking diversity seriously or risk losing NPO status. All NPOs have all signed up to the Creative Case for Diversity, which is about accessible programming, but also a long-term approach to diversity that will ‘enhance talent, resilience and income’. ACE do not intend to let the big organisations off lightly, they are now expected to ‘play a leading role’. ACE are looking for progress in workforce diversity ‘offering real career pathways – not just a taste of the arts to those from minorities… Government figures for the overall creative and cultural workforce show that it’s more white now than in 2008-9 – up from 92% to 93%.’
In particular we concur with ACE’s frank assessment that lack of progress has a lot to do with leadership, ‘For things to change long term they need to become more uncomfortable at the top.’ We have also heard this recently from The Paul Hamlyn Foundation in the interim report from the Our Museum Initiative which supports museums to embed participatory community engagement by focusing on active partnership and organisational change.
To hear acknowledgement that smaller organisations, have been actively making change with the least resources was very positive and the Arts Council’s increasing investment in diversity to the tune of £6 million is of course very welcome.
You can watch or download the full version here and these are a few more of our favourite extracts from the speech;
‘The question is, when we live in such a diverse society, with such potential, how can we release that next wave of creative energy? And the point is – that it’s in the arts that we should see this first. It’s our job.
‘We must give opportunities to everyone, to the children of middle class Asian parents, to the children of working class white parents. As a society if we don’t use that diversity we will have a world with no social mobility, one that’s shaped by static elites.’, ‘In economic terms we have a creative sector that is growing three times the rate of the economy. That creative sector needs ideas, it needs revenue steams, it needs audiences many of which can come from this diverse society.’
‘So, in talking about diversity, we’re talking about the future of our arts and culture – and our nation. It’s an issue of national importance, and the political parties recognise this’.
‘If you don’t engage with that tax payers why should they fund you?’
‘We need fora that will connect organisations of different scales, and bring the best resourced together with those that are best connected on the street.’
‘Our funded organisations have all been required to implement Equality Action Plans for some time. But from 2015 we’ll also be publishing workforce diversity data for individual National portfolio organisations and Major partner museums.’
‘The arts are a mirror for society; and if we sort this, the arts won’t have to make the case for diversity. The arts will simply be the case’
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