Let’s Diversify!

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A new study has called for improvements to be made on how diversity data is recorded on young people’s access to the arts.

The research carried out by EW Group has concluded that Arts Council England (ACE) must “radically improve” how it collects, analyses and uses diversity data to assess young people’s engagement in the sector. The report, which investigated ACE’s goal to give every child and young person the opportunity to “experience the arts”, found that reliable diversity data was largely unavailable across the organisation. This may be due to a “homogenous” approach, the study suggested, meaning that young people who engage with the sector are referred to as one group rather than identified by their individual characteristics. A more “straightforward” approach is called for, to better record information on age, disability status, gender, race and religion. Commenting on the report Chief Operating Officer, Richard Russell, agreed that they “might not be asking the right questions”, but offered reassurance that ACE were already taking steps to “improve opportunities for those experiencing barriers to access arts and culture.”

The report did manage to produce some findings about the current state of diversity among young people. Overall research found that girls were more involved in the arts sector than boys, and that young people from black and ethnic minority groups (BAME) were less likely to be taken to arts events by their parents than their peers. The study also concluded that interest in the arts “dropped off” as young people approached their teens.

Going forward, the report calls on ACE to provide leadership and to improve equality across the sector, ensuring that its programmes work strategically to increase diversity for children and young people. The full report is available to read here.

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