From the tingling steel pans played in the streets of Birmingham, to the spicy Indian takeaway we indulge in on a Friday night – Culture in Britain is derived from diversity.
Her history has been built by countries that represent different communities, ethnicities and demographics. So, I ask…why is our melting pot of cultural inheritance not represented in the cultural and creative industries workforce? BAME representatives within the performing arts sector, in 2020 are still dangerously underrepresented.
Former prime minister Tony Blair and his New Labour party directed, as Mcrobbie in 2011, noted the turning point in the creative economy. This turning point was a hello, to a transformative and bright industry and supposed goodbye to the archaic attitudes of the soft, flouncy, approach towards those who sought creative work.
Original aims of inclusion
One of Blairs aims to progress our nations social cohesion, was signified by the importance of BME individuals working in the cultural arts, but more consciously negating the movement of industries to be more intersectional – after all, Afrad Khan said it best that ‘’our differences fuel our creativity’’ .
The decision to rebrand the cultural and the creative works as an industry in 2000, set to highlight the perseverance and movement of the cultural arts in social navigation.
Introductions of diversity schemes, sought to ensure that BME occupants of this sector were able to have similar positions and opportunities as their wealthy, white, male counterparts – or what you could call those at the top of the hierarchy.
This governmental attempt to enforce social and ethnic minority inclusion in the arts, highlighted the evidence that British culture wouldn’t exist without multiculturalism .
Yet, 20 years later from the plans of new labour, our industry is not reflecting this, but in fact declining in ethnic diversity.
Why this stunt in progress still exists…
- It’s important to question who is navigating these decisions on what pieces of culture are mainstreamed?
- who is creating these beautiful signs of cultural expression,
- But,most importantly who is the engaged audience in the specific sector verses who crafts participation and the creation of such things?
A research project conducted in 2018 by sociologists in Universities of both Edinburgh and Sheffield, reported that black and minority ethnic people make up 4.8% of Music, performing and visual arts roles in the creative sector.
Now, the concept of enlarging the BME workforce in performing arts needs the focus and consolidation of theory and practice, which to their detriment have meant policies championing diversity have failed. To focus both on social development and economic prosperity through workforce means that the best of both worlds are intertwined.
Room for change
In other words, I’m talking about marketisation and moral navigation being the focus or stimuli, for the increased participation of BME people in both the performing and the decision making roles within the performing arts sector.
For there to be economic gain, means that governmental funding, must be explicit in the desire to open up BME audiences, so demands can be met from a market perspective. But also, we need this workforce intake to meet a higher percentage, for the voices and talents past and present that may not have as easily been able to join this sector.
To put it simply, we endanger a future generation of not pursuing their talents to join the creative arts for fear of discrimination, bias or simply because they had not seen someone like them in this sector.
A reason for action
So here’s a suggestion, that theory and practice must be realigned in society, so that BME performers can help to create the next generation of role models and positive representations of ethnic minorities.
However, now this is most important, we must look honestly at strategies, and urge our government for black and minority ethnic voices, experiences and interests to be shown in all levels of the industry.
I don’t know about you, but I would hate to think of missing the next generations Idris Elba.
Disclaimer: All photographs and were used under fair usage;educational purposes.