Hardish Virk, 12 January 2016

The following are some of the themes that came out of the session:

- The conversation around diversity has been taking place for many decades (just

different words and terminologies).

- The pinnacle moments include the publication of Art that Britain Ignores by Naseem

Khan in 1976 and the McPherson Report into the murder of Stephen Lawrence which

made a number of recommendations based on evidence that identified

institutionalised racism in the Police. This led to conversations around institutionalised

racism in other public funded bodies including theatre which took place at the Eclipse

Seminar at the Nottingham Playhouse in 2001. There were a number of

recommendations made which led to a projects and interventions including Eclipse

Theatre, Black Regional Initiative in Theatre, decibel, South Asian Touring Theatre

Consortium, etc.

- There is a timeline of other activities both within and outside the arts sector that have

led to the diversity agenda that is taking up a lot of discussion and debate within the

creative industries today including the ACE funded Creative Case for Diversity


- There was discussion around the work of some diversity led initiatives including What

Next? Diversity West Midlands and Act for Change.

- There was discussion about who sets and controls the diversity agenda. In relation to

this who controls the language used around diversity. Is the agenda and language

manipulated and does it really have a sustainable impact on the arts?

- Real change will take place with change of leadership - where the power really sits.

- Diversity is not sustainable due to the project funded nature of the work. It is not

funded to build in sustainability.

- Conversations around diversity need to take place with all staff (from senior to front

of house) - so it is owned by all and particularly those in direct contact with audiences.

- There should be fines and penalties for those public funded organisations not

meeting diversity quotas set up to support diversification of staff, artists and


- Equity have responded by seeing staff changes reflecting diversity in their work force

and are encouraging the same from the sector.

- It's not only about diversity on stage but also in administration and management.

- Funding cuts to education will impact on arts subjects first and as this is sometimes

the main entrance point for many culturally diverse pupils and students then this will

have a negative impact on generating professionals within the arts from culturally

diverse backgrounds. How can we diversify the sector when the entrance points are

being closed which will mean arts participation and career prospects will only be

designed for the privileged?

- Diversity is beyond the colour of skin - it's about disability (physical, learning and

invisible), class, gender, sexuality, etc. Diversity represents those historically

under-represented from mainstream arts.

- Marketing or positioning of diverse arts also has a negative impact on the profile of

diverse arts. Example - music or books by Black, Asian and Gay artists are usually

positioned at the back of the shop.

- NPO's need to be more transparent with their diversity in relation to staff, artists and

audiences and fines should be imposed on those not making an effort to change.

- We need to work in partnership with the sector in case organisations need support.

- Diversity is not an add on or token gesture. The discussion continues as diversity is

still relevant and will continue to be so until there is real and sustainable equality within

the arts.


Race, eclipse, race, diversity, power, equality, gender, WHAT NEXT, Power,

legislation, decibel, Gender, Disability, disability, Equality, race relations, what next,

naseem khan, BRIT, arts council england, act for change, What Next, Diversity, Arts

Council England, stephen lawrence