Toolkit: Socio-economic diversity and inclusion in the arts

Toolkit: Socio-economic diversity and inclusion in the arts

By Jerwood Arts


This toolkit by Jerwood Arts and the Bridge Group gives a guide for employers, outlining how to take practical steps to change their organisational cultures to attract and retain a more socio-economically diverse workforce.

Fair access to working in the arts remains one of the most urgent issues facing the sector today, with those from lower socio-economic backgrounds still vastly underrepresented amongst the artists and employees of UK theatres, festivals, galleries and arts organisations of all kinds.

Since the Weston Jerwood Creative Bursaries programme was set up in 2010, this ‘class crisis’ has deepened, with recent research emphasising that chronic issues of socio-economic under-representation persist. This makes its work more important than ever; and the successes along the way even more valuable and worth sharing.

We want to make sure that the people who create artistic work and run cultural organisations are representative of the way that England looks and feels today – and the same is true for audiences too. Our investment in this new toolkit is a step in helping this to happen – but there is still much to do.

Darren Henley, Chief Executive, Arts Council England

Jerwood Arts and the Bridge Group have joined forces for this Toolkit with a mission to look to the future: to support long-term change across the arts sector by sharing knowledge, providing expert support, and encouraging take-up of an intersectional approach to equality, diversity and inclusion. We are delighted to gather here some of the practical ideas from the programme, alongside case studies from our ‘Host’ organisations. We have partnered with the Bridge Group to bring in research and advice from other sectors and to encourage organisations to take a strategic approach.

Of all sectors, the arts must be where diversity and inclusion should be taken most seriously. Works that explore, challenge and reflect contemporary society are naturally richer if they are informed by a wider range of social perspectives and experiences. We hope this guide supports organisations and individuals to make important steps in this direction.

Nik Miller, Chief Executive, the Bridge Group

Improving equality, diversity and inclusion across the arts is key to releasing the true potential of our nation’s artistic and cultural talent, and it starts with entry level roles like those created by our programme. Only a more representative sector at all levels will ensure that in future, the art that gets made is not just outstanding in form and content, but relevant to the widest possible audiences. Our rigorous evaluation process has helped us to identify good practice and capture vital lessons which we can now share. We do this in the hope that the ideas within will help anyone with the power to appoint and promote to support more outstanding people from lower socio-economic backgrounds and, eventually, make the arts more excellent for all.

Kate Danielson, Director, Weston Jerwood Creative Bursaries

Lilli Geissendorfer, Director, Jerwood Arts

Download the toolkit 

The toolkit will be followed in autumn 2019 by a series of workshops exploring its recommendations in detail. The first event will take place at Dance4 in Nottingham on Tuesday 15 October from 12-4pm. Book a free place here. Further dates and venues to be announced.

Resource type: Guide/tools | Published: 2019