This was the 10th year of the conference, the first under it’s new CEO Simon Dancey, and it was held in Wales for the first time. The event brought together policy-makers, educators and creative practitioners to explore how the barriers in the cultural sector can be broken down.
This year’s industry panel was made up of Vilma Nikolaidou, Associate Director, People Strategy University Arts London, Kate Danielson, Director, Weston Jerwood Creative Bursaries, Emma Green, Head of Diversity, Dept of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Alex Porter-Smith, Co-founder, High Tide and Marc Jaffrey Creative, Media and Film specialist.
The panel emphasised the importance of considering the practical barriers that people face, including transport and childcare and held a discussion spanning from barriers to sector progression to inequalities in the education sector. Socio- economic background is not currently a protected characteristic in the Equality Act and Kate Danielson outlined three critical challenges to addressing socio-economic diversity in the Cultural Industries: the fact that it is hard to see, that it is hard to talk about and that it is hard to measure.
The Weston Jerwood Creative Bursaries programme is a nationwide programme supporting arts organisations to expand their approach to diverse recruitment and talent development, and build their capacity for outstanding artistic production. Since 2010, the programme has worked with 110 of the UK’s best arts producers and organisations across art forms to kick-start the careers of 124 talented people from lower socio-economic backgrounds; in Truro, Wakefield, Belfast, Leeds, London, Margate, Cardiff, Birmingham, Glasgow and beyond. Critically, it allows organisations to develop new year-long job roles which close skills gaps in their greatest areas of need.
The Weston Jerwood Creative Bursaries is still the only arts programme focusing on socio-economic diversity. We are preparing to publish a toolkit this summer to share the experiences of the host organisations who took part in the programme on how they have improved their recruitment and inclusion practices, collaborating with The Bridge Group to bring new ideas into the arts sector.