A report commissioned by the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Creative Diversity has been published to address the question of workforce equity in the creative and cultural sectors in the UK.
Prepared by King’s College London, the University of Edinburgh and supported by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation and NBC Universal, ‘The Creative Majority’ aims to clarify what has worked to improve equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) across diverse fields such as medicine, engineering and management studies, and what can be learned from mistakes made.
In the 18 month-long preparation of the report, round-table discussions with representatives from across the creative world were chaired by the APPG lead, Baroness Deborah Bull, and Chi Onwurah MP. The lessons from these, together with expert and personal evidence submissions and reviews of academic literature, all fed in to inform the report’s recommendations.
These are based around five guiding principles, entitled ‘the five As’, to act as benchmarks for those seeking progress in equity, diversity and inclusion.
The five are Ambition, Allyship, Accessibility, Adaptability and Accountability and are supported by 26 policy recommendations to help the sector rebalance.
A chance for policymakers to step up and lead
These call for a sea-change in established thinking about the current position of our creative and cultural industries and communities. But the recommendations come with the caveat that they are no cure-all. ‘The As are not a five-step guide to success,’ the report says. ‘There is not yet enough evidence from any sector to say what works every time… This report represents a challenge and a demand. It offers a chance for policymakers, along with organisations and businesses, to step up and lead.’
The APPG’s co-chair, Baroness Deborah Bull, echoes this call. ‘Change will only happen if equality, diversity and inclusion are not left to any one individual or team but are understood as the responsibility of everyone, at every level of every creative organisation: firmly rooted at the heart of business, funding, engagement and commissioning plans.
‘Change at this scale will require bold and visionary leadership across government, at sector level and within organisations and businesses: leadership that is willing to step up to meet the challenge this report sets out. It won’t be easy, but the rewards will be great: a creative workforce and audiences that include, represent and benefit from the talents of the full and glorious diversity of the UK population.
Baroness Deborah Bull, Vice President (Communities & National Engagement) and Senior Advisory Fellow for Culture, King’s College London, Co-Chair, APPG for Creative Diversity
As Robert Adediran, EDI Consultant and former Executive Director of London Music Matters stated in the report, ‘There is a strong sense that everyone who is at the top are there because they are the best people for the role and that’s very damaging because it prevents us from looking for talent elsewhere.
‘In music, particularly classical, there’s a sense the artform has reached a pinnacle, that it could not possibly get better than it already is and, again, that is very dangerous because it robs one of the key drivers for diversity and inclusion, which is to make the artform better.’
We can’t really be effective until we tackle the question of what ‘good’ really looks like
Miranda Wayland, Head of Creative Diversity at the BBC, said, ‘We can’t really be effective until we tackle the question of what ‘good’ really looks like. I can come up with different metrics about how diversity of thought and diversity of inclusion in our recruitment practices are really at the heart of it, but if those people who are making decisions aren’t really thinking about what good looks like, no initiative, no scheme, no target that we’ve all been embedded in supporting over the last ten, fifteen, thirty years, is going to make a difference.
‘We need to break the illusion that ‘good’ only comes in a certain package, from a certain background, with a certain title and a certain destination.’
‘For too long the UK’s creative industries have been dominated by a narrow subset of the UK population – a subset that does not represent our country as a whole,’ said Chi Onwurah MP, Co-Chair, APPG for Creative Diversity.
‘The pandemic has only deepened this issue, with fewer creative organisations, fewer job opportunities and fewer openings for diverse talent. Without action, we risk exacerbating inequalities further in the creative industries and an entire generation of talent – the future of the sector – could be lost.
‘Creative Majority shows how we can plot a positive course out of this crisis. It is the culmination of 18 months of research by the APPG for Creative Diversity and its partners into what works – and what doesn’t – when it comes to boosting diversity and inclusion in the creative sector. The result is a comprehensive report that provides actionable, practical steps for creative businesses and organisations, as well as achievable recommendations for government.’