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Lack of BME staff in arts ‘urgently needs addressing’

REPRESENTATION: A report from Arts Council England shows there has been slow progress in increasing the number of BME staff

THE LACK of black and minority ethnic (BME) representation in the arts urgently needs addressing, Arts Council England says.

In a new report published by the body today, data shows there has been slow progress in regards to improving representation of people from BME backgrounds in the creative sector.

The report, titled Equality, Diversity and the Creative Case, reveals that there has been only a small increase in representation across the across the workforce and leadership of national arts organisations in Arts Council England’s portfolio, such as Southbank Centre and Rich Mix, in recent years. Between 2015 and 2018 there was just a shift from 10 - 12 per cent.

In the 21 major museums that are the lack of representation of people from BME backgrounds was even more striking, with just 5 per cent of staff found to be non-white.

Nicholas Serota, chair, Arts Council England, said: “The data from our annual diversity report shows where we are on the journey to become better representative of society. There has been progress in some areas; in others we see little momentum. We must be more focussed in our approach to the issues and from next year we will be reporting in greater detail, looking at diversity in the context of the funding organisations receive as well as their artistic disciplines.”

Arts Council England says there is much work to do before the organisations it funds reflect our diverse and contemporary society.

Efforts to improve representation have been made through the body’s Creative Case for Diversity, an initiative that requires all of Arts Council England’s portfolio organisations to integrate diversity into all areas of their work in order to qualify for funding.

The report also revealed that only 5 per cent of national arts organisations within Arts Council England’s portfolio and 4 per cent of Major Partner Museum (MPM) staff identify as disabled, despite making up 20 per cent of the working age population.

Staff who identify as disabled are better represented at leadership level, making up seven per cent of chief executives, eight per cent of artistic directors and sx per cent of chairs.

With regards to gender, the representation of women in senior roles has continued to improve. More than half of the organisations are run by female chief executives and the number of female artistic directors has increased 46 per cent (2017/18) up form 35 per cent (2016/17).

With the inclusion of arts groups that champion inclusion such as Ballet Black in Arts Council England’s 2018-22, figures around representation of people from BME backgrounds is expected to improve.

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