ACE announces £2.6m fund to tackle lack of diversity - Museums Association

ACE announces £2.6m fund to tackle lack of diversity

Figures show museums are behind arts organisations in efforts to become more diverse
Patrick Steel
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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