ACE threatens funding cuts over lack of diversity

Report shows BAME and disabled people still under represented across arts
Yosola Olorunshola
Museums have the lowest proportion of workers from black and ethnic minority (BAME) backgrounds in the arts, according to the latest data from Arts Council England (ACE).

Only 6% of the museum workforce identify as BAME, compared to 16% of the national working population, and 11% of the workforce across all of ACE’s National Portfolio Organisations (NPO). 

The data shows that the total percentage of disabled workers in NPOs is 6%. In museums, the percentage rises slightly to 7% but this is still only a third of the working age population who identify as disabled (21%). 

After five years of gathering data on diversity, the arts council has adopted a more assertive tone in releasing the Equality, Diversity and Creative Case report. 

Nicholas Serota, the chairman of ACE, said: “This year’s annual diversity report reveals a disappointing picture. In the new strategy, organisations that receive regular investment from the arts council will need to set themselves stretching targets for representation in governance, leadership, workforce, participants and audiences. 

“Failure to meet these targets will have an impact on future funding.” 

The report focuses on four protected characteristics, in line with the 2010 Equality Act: race (referred to as ethnicity); disability; sex (referred to as gender); and sexual orientation. 

The data also shows that women represent 57% of the museum workforce and 52% of NPOs are run by female chief executives. Compared to 6% across all the arts, 3% of museum workers identify as LGBT.

NPOs have also received a Creative Case rating – ranging from “not met” to “outstanding” – to assess how well they reach the criteria. These ratings have been published for the first time in the latest report.  

In April, ACE is expected to reveal details on new targets for arts organisations of all sizes to meet in order to fulfil their funding requirements. From this year, the arts council will also begin to monitor socio-economic data to offer a more detailed picture of diversity in the arts.

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