Probe into race inequality in art teaching launched

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A research commission to examine the inequality of art teaching for black, Asian and minority ethnic pupils and its effect on the creative sector has been launched today.

With BAME Britons accounting for 13.8% of the UK population but only 2.7% part of the arts sector workforce, the Freelands Foundation and the Runnymede Trust have gone into partnership for major research into why and how young people from non-white backgrounds are excluded from art education. Although 31% of our schoolchildren are minority ethnic, 94% of visual art teachers are white. https://freelandsfoundation.co.uk/runnymede-trust

Also today, a report from the Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation says that racial inequality. in drama schools needs to be addressed “as a matter of urgency to create permanent institutional change”.

The Freelands Foundation was founded in 2015 by Elisabeth Murdoch, the daughter of Rupert Murdoch, to open the way for more people to participate in and enjoy the arts, with an emphasis on education.

“We know that black, Asian and ethnically diverse students face significant obstacles to studying art at every stage of their educational journey, not least because of a striking lack of representation in the curriculum and in art educators” she said. “This has the ripple effect on the lack of representation throughout the arts sector: from entry level, technical, curatorial, to leadership, at which point only 2% of managers in visual arts organisations identify as BAME.

“Working with the Runnymede Trust we will look at the ecosystem of art education as a whole to identify bold solutions that we believe will drive real change across the sector, creating greater opportunities for black and ethnically diverse students to shape and enrich the visual art landscape of tomorrow” she said.

The commission will look at opportunity and aspiration in art education and how diversity is reflected in art making. A sector-wide review will be published in autumn 2021 mapping the representation of BAME artists, curators and organisational leadership, followed by an investigation of racial inequalities among secondary school pupils and teachers in the art curriculum with a full report coming in autumn 2022.

“Our school students are a blank canvas” said Halima Begum, director of Runnymede Trust, the race equality think tank: “It is imperative they are able to see and appreciate diversity in art. With representation comes inspiration, and I have no doubt that this project, led by Freelands Foundation and Runnymede Trust, will lend important data and evidence to the thus-far sparse study of equity and inclusion in the UK art sector.

“Ultimately we believe that the impact of this research will resonate beyond a single generation and provide the foundation for developments in the teaching of art in our nation’s schools, and in turn help to inspire new generations of children who value, appreciate, and indeed fall in love with art in all its forms.”

The Andrew Lloyd Webber report, Centre Stage 2021, says that since the last report on the issue five years ago the number of BAME students at drama school has risen by just 7.5%.

Andrew Lloyd Webber, writing in the foreword for the report, said: “Five years ago my foundation commissioned a report on diversity in the theatre, or rather the lack of it, with the conclusion that theatre was “hideously white”. Five years on there has been change, but not nearly enough” Andrew Lloyd Webber writes in the report’s foreword.

“Opportunity in education is the only way to unlock diverse talent so it can succeed in the theatre. Education costs money. My foundation funds up to 30 scholarships annually. They are awarded strictly on the basis of need and talent. It speaks volumes that 70% of the current scholars are people of colour. Theatre schools need more scholarships, not just for performers, but for every discipline.”

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