Research commission to investigate racial inequality in art education - Museums Association

Research commission to investigate racial inequality in art education

Initiative will measure and analyse access to art education across different ethnic groups
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Geraldine Kendall Adams
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Drawing Act II: Pattern Performance Parade, with Alexis Teplin, 2020
Drawing Act II: Pattern Performance Parade, with Alexis Teplin, 2020 © Drawing Room London

A research commission is being launched to carry out an in-depth investigation into racial inequality in art education.

Supported by the Freelands Foundation and the Runnymede Trust, the commission will gather data around racial inequalities among students and teachers and within the art curriculum, as well as measuring access to art education across different ethnic groups.

The initiative will also undertake a large-scale consultation with teachers, academic leaders and stakeholders such as cultural organisations, to identify the challenges and blocks for students of colour.

The research will focus on Key Stages 3 and 4 (11- 16 years), aiming to capture the transition from compulsory to elective art education. Existing research shows that early engagement in art is vital, with Black and Asian students choosing art A Levels at less than half the rate of their white counterparts.

The commission will publish a final report including guidelines, recommendations and plans for teaching and training resources, with the aim to empower arts and education organisations to enact long-term structural changes towards greater inclusion.

Halima Begum, the director of Runnymede Trust, said: “I have no doubt that this project will lend important data and evidence to the thus-far sparse study of equity and inclusion in the UK art sector.

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“Ultimately we believe that the impact of this research will resonate beyond a single generation and provide the foundation for developments in the teaching of art in our nation’s schools, and in turn help to inspire new generations of children who value, appreciate, and indeed fall in love with art in all its forms.”

Elisabeth Murdoch, the founder and chair of Freelands Foundation, said: “We know that Black, Asian and ethnically diverse students face significant obstacles to studying art at every stage of their educational journey, not least because of a striking lack of representation in the curriculum and in art educators.

“This has the ripple effect on the lack of representation throughout the arts sector: from entry level, technical, curatorial, to leadership, at which point only 2% of managers in visual arts organisations identify as BME.

“We will look at the ecosystem of art education as a whole to identify bold solutions that we believe will drive real change across the sector, creating greater opportunities for Black and ethnically diverse students to shape and enrich the visual art landscape of tomorrow.”

The Runnymede Trust is a race equality think tank, and the Freelands Foundation is a company that works to enable access to the visual arts for all.

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