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Arts Council England is today (Monday 15th January) holding its annual diversity event Creative Case: leading diverse futures at Nottingham Playhouse. The Arts Council’s 2016-17 diversity report Equality, Diversity and the Creative Case is also being published.
During his keynote speech at the event, Arts Council England’s Chair Sir Nicholas Serota will talk about the impact that diversity could have on the economy and the importance of social mobility. Reflecting on two reports published by CEBR and the Social Mobility Commission last year, he’ll say that we need to do more to help young people progress in their lives and challenge socio-economic barriers.
Nick Serota: “Our young, diverse population is a national asset- a multitude of perspectives, ideas, talent and creativity. But we have a problem. We are as a society depriving this young population of opportunity.
“I want the arts to be an inclusive world; a building open to all. Not an exclusive club. Our mission to deliver on diversity is doubly vital.
“This report shows that where the Arts Council has direct influence, we can change things.”
Nick will highlight the progress made following significant Arts Council investment in a number of funding programmes aimed at improving diversity. The Elevate programme for example committed £5.3 million to develop the work of 40 organisations that were then outside the National Portfolio, but which had the potential to make a strong contribution to the Creative Case for Diversity. Thirty of those organisations then bid to be a National Portfolio Organisation and twenty were successful.
Nick will say, “We are still at the beginning of this process, and are only now seeing the results of decisions that were made several years ago. There is more to do. A lot more.”
The diversity report shows that we have a high level of ‘unknown’ responses across many questions, and during this speech, Nick will reiterate the importance of capturing reliable data.
“Making the case to government for public investment in art and culture means presenting a credible picture of who we are and what we are doing. We need you all on board, if we are to make a compelling case for funding at a time when the competition for resources is fierce.”
Looking towards the future, Nick will say that the next few years will see considerable change, “The sector is moving forward. Those organisations that aren’t prepared to change will be left behind.”
“The world has moved rapidly in the last decade, and the arts have to be alive to the demands and opportunities of a new political, social, economic and technological era.
“But I am sure that there will be an ever-greater need for the arts in all our lives – in more participatory ways that encourage the creativity of each individual, and provide a focus for us as communities.”
The 2016-17 diversity report Equality, Diversity and the Creative Case gives us the opportunity to assess our progress and to target areas that are progressing more slowly. This year it shows that in comparison with the wider working age population, people from a Black and minority ethnic background and disabled people are under-represented across our workforce and leadership.
Arts and cultural organisations are making progress with integrating diversity across all areas of their programme. Almost half of our National Portfolio Organisations (NPOs) were given the highest Creative Case for Diversity rating this year, compared to a third of organisations given this rating last year.
Other speakers at the event at Nottingham Playhouse come from the arts and cultural sector and beyond, including Sandeep Mahal from Nottingham UNESCO City of Literature, Chris Michaels from the National Gallery, Raj Tulsiani from Green Park recruitment agency, Aesha Zafar from the BBC and the Arts Council’s Change Makers.
You can watch a live stream of the event from 11am here: www.artscouncil.org.uk/diversity
A full copy of the report and Sir Nicholas Serota’s speech will be available from the Arts Council England press office