Delegates at the Museums Association's conference in Birmingham 2015

ACE announces £2.6m fund to tackle lack of diversity

Patrick Steel, 07.12.2015
Figures show museums are behind arts organisations in efforts to become more diverse
Arts Council England (ACE) today announced Change Makers, a £2.6m fund designed to develop a cohort of black and minority ethnic (BAME) and disabled leaders through a programme of targeted leadership training hosted by a National Portfolio Organisation (NPO) or Major Partner Museum (MPM).

Awards of between £100,000 and £150,000 are available for applications that include match-funding of 20% of the total project budget from other sources. Interested MPMs should write expressing interest in conjunction with a named BAME or disabled leader before the deadline of 28 April.

The announcement follows the release of diversity figures for MPMs from 2012-15, which shows that museums are some way behind arts establishments, and a long way behind the national average, in becoming more diverse.

There are no BAME-led MPMs, as compared with the 52 BAME-led NPOs.

Working age BAME people represent 14% of the English population. The statistics show that the BAME workforce across MPMs has remained static at 3% since 2012-13, while BAME management positions have fallen from 4.4% in 2012-13 to 2.7% in 2014-15. BAME representation on boards has remained static at 1% over the same period.

By comparison, the BAME workforce in NPOs has increased slightly from 12.8% to 13.7%, while BAME management positions have increased from 9.6% to 10.1%.

18% of the population of England has some form of disability. By comparison, 3.8% of the MPM workforce in 2014-15 declared they have some form of disability. BAME workers are in 4.1% of managerial roles, and constitute 0.8% of the boards of MPMs.

Unlike NPOs, MPMs are not required to meet ACE's "Creative Case ratings", a mechanism for monitoring diversity targets, as part of their funding agreements.

The published figures indicate a lack of diversity across the board, but give only a partial picture due to a lack of data. According to ACE’s figures, 44% of museum staff did not declare their ethnicity, while ACE’s figures on the sexual orientation of its own staff show that 16.6% preferred not to disclose this information. ACE has no data at all on sexual orientation for the MPM workforce.

This was an issue flagged up in a report on diversity in the MPM workforce by the Museum Consultancy, commissioned by the arts council and published in November, which recommended that “MPMs should improve the coverage of data on the demographics of the museum workforce, and report complete data on their workforce demographics in the MPM annual survey”.

ACE has taken on the recommendation and tasked MPMs in Brighton and Norfolk to lead on sharing good practice on reporting monitoring data. The MPMs in Brighton and Norfolk are also working with ACE on a delivery plan to take forward the Museums Consultancy's recommendations, which ACE is looking to publish towards the end of January.

ACE’s chairman, Peter Bazalgette, in a speech today at the Birmingham Rep: “We still need better data. And while we respect the right of individuals not to identify themselves in surveys, if you do not participate it may weaken the overall case for public funding.

“We currently don’t know anything about the ethnicity, gender or disabled status of 20% of the workforce. One in five is simply ‘unknown’.”

"It is great news that the arts council is so engaged with and committed to the campaign to diversify the leadership and workforce of museums and other arts organisations," said Sharon Heal, the Museums Association's director. "I wholeheartedly agree with Peter Bazalgette’s plea for better data so that we can measure the baseline and any progress that is made and I welcome the funding commitment that comes with this campaign.

"Despite various initiatives museums have failed to tackle the lack of diversity in the workforce. I would like to see the definition of diversity extended beyond ethnicity and disability to include background, gender and sexuality and I would also hope that efforts to diversify the workforce can be extended to making our audiences as representative of the whole of society as possible."


We said Change Makers was £2.1m - in fact it is £2.6m. We also said 69.6% of ACE's staff preferred not to disclose their sexual orientation - in fact it is 16.6%. Details of the Museum Consultancy report delivery plan were also added.

Links and downloads

Change Makers

Diversity and the creative case

Big Debate: Diversity


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MA Member
25.01.2016, 16:32
As I wrote in my previous comment about diversity - if you improve pay and conditions for museums staff you will improve diversity. If not, you won't, no matter how much of a song and dance people make, nor how many special funds you devote to the cause. Never mind special funds - just invest in a few more secure, full-time, reasonably-paid jobs, and advertise them widely. Or reinstate some of the jobs the local authorities have cut in the last five years - that would be a start!

There are more part-time jobs than full-time jobs in museums - and this is increasing as cuts bite. Because they don't pay a living wage, not surprisingly these appeal more to women than to men, particularly, women with children, and those with (mostly) male partners who work full time, in other fields and who therefore earn more, enough to cover the shortfall.

Thirty or more years ago museums were very much the preserve of the upper classes, not only because of class privilege but because the jobs mostly paid so little that the only people who could afford to work there were those with private incomes. Now, I don't think that's necessarily always true any more, but it's simply that a huge swathe of society still can't afford to work in most museums.

Anyone single, anyone poor or with no family backing, anyone with a mortgage, anyone with children who doesn't have a working partner - these are all going to think twice about considering a career which demands massive commitment, extremely high qualifications you have to pay to acquire, often a lot of out of hours work, but which pays, usually, a laughaby small salary, even supposing you can get a permanent contract which is increasingly rare. That is what militates most against diversity.
Rana J Ibrahim
MA Member
Curatorial Assistant P.A.T, Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums
13.12.2015, 09:02
Dear Sara Wajid and all ,
I am one of the people you have mentioned in the MA conference,which is under the umbrella of Diversity, black and minority ethnic (BAME).Every time I want to fly out and stretch my wings I have a wings cut from museum sector employers .Is there any hope for me to try again and manage to fly this time after the last MA conference or not ?

I really want to speak out loud now ,I don't care anymore ,I want everyone hear my very low voice ,I do feel I have been pulled down instead of taking my hands and supporting me ?
Anyone interested to hear from me ,please get in touch now!!!!!

Looking forward to hear from you all ,
MA Member
10.12.2015, 09:53
Helen Wilkinson's article makes some disquieting observations, and interesting to consider this and gender diversity in the context of a workforce data baseline report published last month by the Archives & Records Association and the Chartered Institute of Library & Information Professionals 'A study of the UK information workforce'. The findings are clearly presented, showing that women dominate the workforce by 78.1%, although they earn less than men. 37.3% of women in the sector earn over £30k, compared to 47% of the 21.9% of men who make up the workforce. The percentage of women in management roles is half that of men, 5.9% compared to 10.2%. So little difference to the UK workforce as a whole. There is still staggering disparity between men and women in earnings and the number of senior level management roles held. The report also presents data on workforce ethnic diversity, qualifications, contracts and permanent positions, and numbers employed within regions. It notes that it may be the first national workforce mapping of the libraries and information sector conducted in the UK. A similarly detailed and comprehensive study into the workforce of the museums and galleries sector does not yet exist, although to hazard a guess, it is likely findings would be broadly similar. The museums sector urgently needs to map this baseline data of its workforce.
MA Member
09.12.2015, 21:03
From the photo there seems to be distinct paucity of men in the audience. I suspect if it were the other way round an enormous fuss would be made. The reasons for this disparity should be looked into.

See this excellent article by Helen Wilkinson referring to this very conference.