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Equality, Diversity and the Creative Case: A Data Report 2016-17

June 20, 201820 June 2018

Human resources in the arts and culture / Diversity and equity

Arts Council England

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This report summarizes the diversity within English arts organizations in 2016/17, based largely on an annual Arts Council England survey completed by larger client organizations. (While the sample size is not stated in the report, the Arts Council England funded 663 National Portfolio Organisations and 21 Major Partner Museums between 2015 and 2018.) The report’s diversity statistics include a focus on disability, ethnicity, gender, and sexuality.

The report cautions that the data are not perfect: disability status is unknown for about one-half of the arts workforce, ethnicity for about one-third of arts workers, gender for about one-sixth of the arts workforce, and sexual orientation for 60% of arts workers.

The report indicates that there is a substantial “under-representation of certain groups in the sector’s workforce, leadership and audiences”. Workforce data from National Portfolio Organisations (NPOs), Major Partner Museums (MPMs), and the Arts Council England itself (ACE) show that people from minority groups and those with disabilities are underrepresented:

  • 16% of the English working age population is from a Black or minority ethnic background, compared with only 11% of workers in NPOs, 4% of those in MPMs, and 9% of ACE staff.
  • 20% of the working age population self-identifies as having a disability, but only 4% of NPO staff, 4% of MPM staff, and 6% of ACE staff self-define as disabled.

People who are Black or from another minority group are also under-represented in senior positions: “Among NPOs and MPMs, only 8% of Chief Executives, 10% of Artistic Directors and 10% of Chairs come from Black and minority ethnic backgrounds”.

Women are over-represented among the staff of arts organizations compared with the overall labour force. However, women are under-represented in senior positions in the arts, representing only 35% of Artistic Directors and Chairs in National Portfolio Organisations.

For the second time in 2016/17, the workforce survey included a question regarding sexual orientation: “While representation of those who identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual is strong at the Arts Council – 13% of staff identify as part of this group, compared to 2% of the working age population, representation is less strong among NPOs (4%) and MPMs (1%).”

In addition to collective data, the report also includes a summary of the staff diversity at organizations with at least 50 permanent staff members.

The Arts Council England notes that it is “undertaking a programme of research and policy development around socioeconomic demographics and barriers facing artists, new and developing talent, staff, leaders, audiences and participants”. The report concludes that “diversity should not be an add-on but become integral to organisational thinking and creative planning”.

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