MAKE A CHANGE
There is an urgent need to address the lack of diversity and equality in the art and entertainment industries. This problem is pervasive and has a wide-ranging impact on society. From a lack of access to a diverse range of cultural experience and enjoyment, through to restrictions on aspiration and social mobility, to a wider negative impact on economic growth – there is a compelling case for change.
Under Representation – Currently people from ethnic minorities, women, disabled and LGBT people are heavily underrepresented in the arts and entertainment industries. Arts Council England’s diversity report 2016-17, reflects this state of affairs finding “significant” under-representation in the organisations it funds. For example, of the 663 arts organisations in its national portfolio, only 8% of chief executives, 10% of artistic directors and 10% of chairs come from black and ethnic minority backgrounds
On the creative and performing arts fronts, lack of available opportunities has also been exacerbated by wider socio- economic barriers for many young people from diverse and disadvantaged backgrounds. In fact, there is evidence that those who are most actively involved with the arts and culture tend to be from the most privileged parts of society.
Consequently, options for pursuing artistic or creative careers can be severely hampered by a lack of access to funding or paid career pathways that would enable young people from more disadvantaged backgrounds to develop their talents.
Audiences enjoy variety – a lack of diversity and equality in the entertainment and arts industries can also lead to a poorer and more narrow cultural experience for us all. American researchers from the University of California, found that films with casts that were 21-30% people of colour had the highest median global box office returns and highest median return on investment. However, although movies with casts that were mostly white had the lowest median box office returns, they made up a majority of the films produced in 2016.
The Visionary Arts Foundation support the view that art and media have a powerful impact in shaping public opinion. There is strong evidence that participation in the arts can contribute to community cohesion, and reduce social exclusion and isolation and when it is truly inclusive increase social mobility. Sadly, the converse can be true. Of particular concern is the evidence of negative influences on young people via social media. Some theorists cite negative peer to peer sharing of certain types of music and rap with negative lyrics as being responsible for creating division and antipathy. In some cases, these genres have also been blamed for inciting violence and in particular knife crime.
However, we believe that young people have the ability to improve things. This thinking is in line with the 2015 UN Security Council report that young people are powerful agents for resolving and preventing conflict throughout the world.
Consequently, the Visionary Arts Foundation aims to empower young people through bursaries, mentoring and providing opportunities within the Arts to help make a difference in their communities and beyond.