Clore Leadership Programme
Clore Leadership Programme

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion: What is stopping us?

Gail Babb, Clore 14 Fellow, explores why there is a disconnect between the sector’s understanding of the importance of diversity and its realisation.

Gail Babb
Gail Babb

Devising with TYPT:17, Talawa Theatre Company. Photographer: Sanaa Abstrakt

You may have heard people say that the world is hurtling through change at a breakneck pace. That our increasingly globalised culture is being changed by technological advances faster than our brains, bodies and businesses can cope with. Communication is more immediate, ideas are spread faster, and we are being urged to add new terms to our vocabularies as old ones are problematised. Suddenly we’re issuing trigger warnings, asking each other what our pronouns are and checking our privilege. Talk to others and you might hear of a world progressing painfully slowly. British citizens are being ‘sent back home’, people with disabilities are still campaigning for equal access to public transport and, according to the Fawcett Society, we are on track to achieve gender equality in 170 years. The pace of change is, in part, subjective. If you are standing still, people can appear to be racing away from you; if you are running, you might wonder why others are out for a light jog.

Despite your perspective, it is clear that diversity is on the agenda in the cultural sector, and has been to varying extents since the mid-eighties. If you take a look at most cultural organisations’ business plans or websites you will see a cultural sector committed to equality. The argument has apparently been won. Yet many groups are still underrepresented on our stages, the walls of our galleries and in our offices. There is a disconnect between the sector’s understanding of the importance of diversity and its realisation. The question is, why?

For the arts and culture sector, diversity is a test of resolve, not because of a lack of willingness, but because many of the underlying power structures of our world evolved in past eras, and the processes of succession have gone unchallenged.’[1]

How willing we are really? Are we ready to challenge the underlying structures of our sector – to make necessary changes to our daily working life? 

To read or download the full provocation paper, click below. 


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