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Diverse figures

Category: LGBT, LGBT inclusion, LGBT+ Network, Media, performing arts, Arts Council England, Report, Arts, Lgbt diversity, LGBT Community

LGBT.

Cat Hammersley, our Senior Manager, Data Analysis and Reporting, blogs about how we collect diversity data from our funded organisations and projects – and more importantly, why.

Cat Hammersley, our Senior Manager, Data Analysis and Reporting, blogs about how we collect diversity data from our funded organisations and projects – and more importantly, why.

In the 20 years since I came out, there have been huge strides forward in LGBT rights. This is down to the generation before me, who challenged inequality and discrimination, and said it’s ok to be yourself. There is still a long way to go but being happy in your own skin, and able to stand up and be counted makes it a little bit easier. I’m lucky that part of my job is about looking at ways we can do this and use data to keep driving change.

"Diversity is the one true thing we all have in common. Celebrate it every day" – Unknown

Diversity is a big concept. We all want to be individual, and stand apart from the crowd – it’s something that unites us all. This desire is what makes art and culture so incredible. It may have a particular meaning to the person who dreamt it up, but we all get to be inspired by it in our own way. That inspiration brings about a dream in someone else, and so more art is born, and the cycle continues.

At the Arts Council, we are in a fortunate position - we get to see these ideas and help bring them to life. We get to invest in those ambitions, and inspire others. To represent everyone’s dreams, we need to know who makes and sees the work that we fund, and how your organisations are put together. We want to know who you are, and what motivates you to produce work for, with and by the diverse society we live in.

Proud to be counted

We’re always looking at the way we collect and monitor data around diversity and how we can get the best picture of who you are. This is the case whether you have applied for a small project grant as an individual, or you are a large scale National Portfolio Organisation.

  • We have introduced a new section on accessibility in the annual survey for the 2018-22 National Portfolio, because we recognise that spaces need to be open to everyone.
  • We’re committed to the social model of disability. We ask if you or your staff consider themselves disabled, giving space to elaborate on this if you/they want to.
  • We ask about age and ethnicity. These are taken from standard monitoring forms, like you’d fill in for everything from job applications to bank accounts, and align with national standards.
  • We ask about gender identity, so that people can choose the best way to describe themselves. As there is no national standard for this, we’ve adapted questions following feedback from you, and will keep responding to best practice recommendations.

Dean Rodney Singers installation at Southbank Centre by Heart n Soul. Photo © Tim Mitchell / Heart n Soul.

We are committed to making the arts sector an accessible place, both to work in and to enjoy. It’s important for us to understand where there might be barriers to this, which is why we introduced a question in the last funding round about sexual orientation. We want to know where there might be inequality, or spaces where people don’t feel confident disclosing information, as well as understanding the many ways and places in which the arts sector is inclusive, and an advocate for change.

We publish all of this in an annual diversity report and use the data to drive change in the diversity of the creative sector, striving for every voice to be heard and every picture painted.

Working it out

We know it’s not always easy to collect this sort of thing. As an organisation, it can be awkward to ask things that you may feel are none of your business. We were encouraged to see a reduction in the number of ‘prefer not to say’ responses in the last annual survey compared to previous years. This suggests that many people understand why we ask these things, and are happy to answer them if asked. We still received a considerable number of ‘not known’ responses (i.e. questions aren’t being asked), particularly at leadership level, which tells us that some questions remain harder to ask than others, and we want to change this.

We use every piece of data given to us to evidence our case for what an exciting place the arts and culture sector is. We protect the data, we don’t share it outside our in-house specialist team of analysts, apart from as aggregated datasets where no individual can be identified. When we do publish data (18 months after the year end for the National Portfolio) we anonymise anything with fewer than five individuals.

We’re currently updating the applicant monitoring form on Grantium, to better align the data we capture across all of our funding streams.

We want to foster a sector where people are confident and happy and able to say ‘here I am, this is me, count me!’.

Only by standing up and being counted can we continue the journey that previous generations started. That’s something I want to celebrate and be part of.

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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 info@vercida.com for more information.

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Arts Council England

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