At ACE’s Creative Case: leading diverse futures event Chair Sir Nicholas Serota will give a keynote speech about the impact that diversity could have on the economy and the importance of social mobility.

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Reflecting on two reports published by CEBR and the Social Mobility Commission last year, he’ll say that the arts sector, including museums, needs to do more to help young people progress in their lives and challenge socio-economic barriers.

Serota will highlight the progress made following significant ACE investment in a number of funding programmes aimed at improving diversity including The Elevate programme, which committed £5.3m to develop the work of 40 organisations that were then outside the National Portfolio, but which had the potential to make a strong contribution to the Creative Case for Diversity. Of those 30 organisations 20 made successful bids to be National Portfolio Organisations.

The 2016-17 diversity report will aid ACE in assessing its progress and target areas that are progressing more slowly. This year it shows that in comparison with the wider working age population, people from a black and minority ethnic backgrounds and disabled people are under-represented in the arts across workforce and leadership.

ACE’s new diversity report shows that there is also a high level of ‘unknown’ data across many areas, and during his speech, Serota will reiterate the importance of capturing reliable data.

“This report shows that where the Arts Council has direct influence, we can change things.” Serota will tell the Playhouse audience. “Our young, diverse population is a national asset [which brings] a multitude of perspectives, ideas, talent and creativity. But we have a problem. We are as a society depriving this young population of opportunity. I want the arts to be an inclusive world; a building open to all. Not an exclusive club. Our mission to deliver on diversity is doubly vital.”

Serota will explain that ACE is at the beginning of a process to make the sector more diverse, and is only now seeing the results of decisions that were made several years ago. Part of the future efforts will be in making the case to government for public investment in art and culture in order to create a credible picture of ‘who we are and what we are doing’.

ACE says that arts and cultural organisations are, however, making progress with integrating diversity across all areas of their programme. Almost half of its National Portfolio Organisations were given the highest Creative Case for Diversity rating in 2017, compared to a third of organisations given that rating the previous year.

Other speakers at the event at Nottingham Playhouse come from the arts and cultural sector and beyond, including Sandeep Mahal from Nottingham UNESCO City of Literature, Chris Michaels from the National Gallery, Raj Tulsiani from Green Park recruitment agency, Aesha Zafar from the BBC and the Arts Council’s Change Makers.

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Key facts from ACE report

In the working age population, 16% of people are from a black or minority ethnic background, compared to only 11% of staff at National Portfolio Organisations (NPOs), 4% of staff at Major Partner Museums (MPMs) and 9% of staff at the Arts Council

A major challenge with representation of disabled people; 20% of the working age population identify as disabled, compared to only 4% of staff at NPOs and MPMs and 6% of staff at the Arts Council

Under-representation is even more acute in those key leadership roles that ACE would expect to be influential in promoting diversity. Among NPOs and MPMs, only 8% of chief executives, 10% of artistic directors and 10% of chairs come from black and minority ethnic backgrounds

At the highest level, women are also under-represented – they make up just 35% of artistic directors and chairs, despite being 46% of the total workforce.

At the Arts Council, 66% of staff are women. While they are well-represented in manager roles they make up less than half of director roles. In contrast, those from black and minority ethnic backgrounds are well-represented in director roles but underrepresented at manager level. Disabled staff are slightly under-represented in both director and manager roles.