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Diversity and our emergency response

Category: disability, performing arts, Arts Council England, Arts, Inclusivity, Disability Access, Deafness Awareness, Disabilities, funding, deafness, application, Emergency

Diversity and Inclusion.

Our Director of Diversity, Abid Hussain, explains how we're keeping inclusivity at the heart of our response to Covid-19.

Little less than three weeks ago we were sharing plans with our National Council outlining our vision for developing a more inclusive sector as part of our work on Let’s Create.

Now our world has been turned upside down by Covid-19. As I write this blog, I’m home-schooling my daughters in between video calls to artists, Arts Council colleagues, government departments and my parents who I am currently unable to visit.

My calendar for April serves as a reminder of the work I planned to see but now can’t, as our theatres, concert halls, museums and galleries have closed their doors to the public, with no clear view on when they will re-open.

In the current circumstances the Arts Council has recognised our obligation to act quickly and with urgency. Today we are launching an Emergency Response Package for individuals and organisations who don’t receive regular funding from us.

Like many others across the sector this has meant making difficult decisions - including pressing pause on both our National Lottery Project Grants and Developing Your Creative Practice (DYCP) programmes. We know this has caused great disappointment for some artists, but we’ve done it because our evidence tells us the sector’s complex ecology is at risk of significant damage.

Now more than ever, it is vital that we maintain our commitment to ensuring equality, diversity and access are at the heart of our thinking. This is reflected in the guidance we have published today for our Emergency Response Package.

Fairer access to funding in the current crisis is non-negotiable. As part of the measures introduced today, we are:

  • ensuring access support is available for disabled and D/deaf applicants applying to the individuals fund
  • setting a higher application ceiling, in the individuals fund, of £3,000 for disabled and D/deaf applicants to factor in additional access support requirements if successful
  • prioritising support for disabled-led organisations as part of our balancing criteria for applicants to the organisational support programme. We will also consider how organisations can help deliver Let’s Create when the Covid-19 emergency eases. This would include consideration of whether the organisation is diverse-led, as noted in each organisation’s Grantium applicant profile
  • producing the guidance in a range of alternative formats including Easyread, BSL and Large Print. We will publish these as soon as possible
  • running two rounds for applications, to ensure anyone who needs longer to develop their proposal can apply

Over the course of the last couple of weeks we’ve been incredibly fortunate to have benefited from the advice, support and challenge of colleagues and peers across the sector.

Our Emergency Response Package can’t address all the concerns raised and our limited resources mean we won’t be able to help everyone we would like to support, but it is my sincere hope that this package will help us to rebuild, reconnect and work towards creating a more inclusive sector in the future.

Demand for this support will be high, but we will do everything in our power to ensure everyone that needs to make an application for funding will be supported in doing so.

We are currently focused on delivering this emergency response, but soon we will start to look ahead. This crisis creates an opportunity to reflect and the chance to press reset. I’ve been genuinely moved by seeing how cultural organisations are responding to the needs of their communities.

This moment can’t be wasted, it must inspire us all to work together to build a sector that is more inclusive and reflective of everyone, not just some of us.

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VERCIDA works with over one hundred clients who are committed to creating an inclusive work environment. If you are an employer and interested in working with VERCIDA to promote your diversity and inclusion initiatives and attract the best candidates, please email [email protected] for more information.

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