Funding Cuts for Art Institutions That Don’t Promote Diversity

Art Council England has unveiled sweeping changes to the criteria by which it awards funding to arts institutions across Britain. Arts Council chairman Sir Peter Bazalgette says that his organization will look specifically at how various organizations and institutions are responding to and promoting diversity within their programming and internal structures.

Organizations that fail to amend their programing to include sufficient representation of their individual localities and audiences could have their funding cut as early as 2018. Bazalgette qualified, however, that many museums and other arts groups were already doing an exemplary job in promoting diversity.

According to the BBC, Bazalgette told the press in a speech at Sadler’s Wells theater in London: “Britain has got many, many talents. And our work should reflect and engage with all our talent and communities. That’s how we will ensure work of true ambition and enduring quality.”

The Art Council chairman also announced a new £25 million fund specifically set aside for areas where the arts currently have very low penetration. He said the mission was to provide access to those who might otherwise not have it: “We can’t give people creative talent. But we can and must give those with talent creative opportunities. The arts are a mirror for society; and if we sort this, the arts won’t have to make the case for diversity. The arts will simply be the case.”

That may come with some consequences for the upper echelons of the current arts establishment. “For things to change, long-term, they need to become more uncomfortable at the top,” Bazalgette added. “We have to open up access to power and to resources. Looking up, too many see the white cliff-face of the arts establishment and feel they just cannot climb it.”

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