An annual report from Arts Council England (ACE) paints what its chair, Sir Nicholas Serota, called “a disappointing picture” when it comes to diversity, a year after he said many organizations were “treading water”.
Just 11 percent of workers in England’s national portfolio organizations, which include galleries, theaters, orchestras, and museums, are from black and other minority ethnic backgrounds. That compares with 16 percent of the working-age population.
In London the figure is 15 percent, near the national average, but well short of the capital’s overall workforce figure of more than 40 percent, theguardian.com wrote.
When it comes to disability, only six percent of people in the arts workforce identify as disabled, compared with 21 percent of the wider working population. Abid Hussain, ACE’s director of diversity, said there had to be “significant improvement” in these two areas.
ACE has been publishing diversity data for five years but has often been accused of merely talking instead of taking strong action. The language this year is significantly more robust. Hussain said organizations would have to start setting “stretching” diversity targets, to be agreed with the council, and if these were not met they could lose public money.
“The pace of change has been too slow,” he said. “Certain communities are significantly under-represented and we need to change that. We need to be very clear: If organizations are not delivering, they could lose their funding. There has been a lot of development support for organizations to get to grips with the challenges. We are moving to a point where targets are going to be set and if organizations are not delivering or meeting targets there will be implications and repercussions.”
The diversity report contains statistics on all aspects of diversity in the sector. On gender, the report shows 47 percent of the workforce is female and that 52 percent of national portfolio organizations are run by female chief executives. Forty-five percent of artistic directors and 40 percent of chairs are women.
All arts organizations are required to integrate diversity into programming in order to get funding. In 2018, ACE introduced a four-point scale measuring their success, ranging from “not met” to “outstanding”.
For the first time ACE is publishing individual ratings in the report. “Not met” accounts for one percent of the portfolio and includes the British Youth Opera, London International Mime Festival, the National Horseracing Museum and the National Youth Jazz Orchestra.
ACE’s measuring of diversity data will become more detailed when this year it begins monitoring the socio-economic background of employees.
Serota said there had been progress over the years, “but we must now all act with greater determination to remove the persistent inequalities in our boards, our workforce and our audiences that are holding back opportunity and achievement in our sector.”