Call for more action on diversity and inclusion in the arts

The Arts Council England’s annual report on diversity and inclusion shows there is still a lot of work to do, particularly when it comes to increasing the BME and disabled workforce in the arts.

two arts masks


Arts Council England says arts bodies could lose public funding unless they meet diversity and inclusion targets, as figures show the proportion of BME and disabled people working in its organisations is below average figures for the population.

The figures revealed in the council’s annual diversity and inclusion report were described as “disappointing” by the head of the Arts Council Nicholas Serota. They show the number of women in the Arts Council’s portfolio of galleries, theatres, orchestras, dance companies and museums is 47%, compared to a national average of 50%, the number of BME people in the workforce is 11%, compared to a national average of 16%; the number of disabled people is 6% compared to a national average of 21% and the number of LGBT people is 6% compared to a national average of 2%.

The report, Equality, Diversity and the Creative Case, shows board representation for the BME workforce is higher at 15%; the percentage of BME Chief Executives is 10%; and Chairs and Artistic Directors are both at 11%.

Disabled representation at board level is 7%; with 9% Chief Executives, 8% Artistic Directors and 5% Chairs. Female board representation is 47%; with 52% Chief Executives, 45% Artistic Directors and 40% Chairs.
LGBT representation at board level is 7%; with 13% Chief Executives, 11% Artistic Directors and 8% Chairs.

Dance has the highest BME workforce at 18%. Museums has the lowest at 6%. Museums, however, has the highest percentage female workforce at 57% while music has the lowest at 32%. The Visual Arts has the highest percentage of disabled people in the workforce at 8%, with dance having the lowest at 3% of the
workforce identifying as disabled. Theatre and Visual Arts have the highest percentage of LGBT workforce at 9% in each discipline and Museums has the lowest LGBT workforce at 3%.

The figures also show regional representation, with London coming the highest for BME staff [15% of the arts workforce] and the Midlands coming top for women [53%], with London coming bottom at 42%.

Representation is also broken down into bands , which show declining percentages for the BME workforce as people rise up the band levels – from 12% in bands one and two to just 5% at a senior level. However, for women representation rises from 46% at band one level to 59% at senior level. For disabled people representation is at 5% at band one, rising to 18% at senior level and while 6% of the band one workforce identifies as LGBT, the number falls slightly to 5% at senior levels.

The report also shows that 14% of the workforce is aged 50-64 and it reports that the gender pay gap at head office has risen slightly on last year’s numbers to 7.5% for the mean salary difference and 3.4% for the median difference despite more women being employed than men because more came in at lower pay bands.

Details of the targets Arts Council England organisations will have to meet on diversity and inclusion are expected to be revealed in April.

Meanwhile, the NHS Confederation has launched an independent taskforce this week to support NHS organisations to increase non-executive diversity on their boards and governing bodies.

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