Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

Our vision is of a just society where all children and young people have equal opportunities to benefit from arts and culture in their lives and to develop their interests and talents as far they wish to take them. We recognise that inequality is a structural and systemic issue and the symptoms of this fall most heavily on young people who are from poorer families, marginalised groups and those described in law as having protected characteristics. Our programme activities and investments respond to that need and aim to inspire the leadership of others.

What was the catalyst for our change in approach to Equality Diversity and Inclusion?

The murder of George Floyd ignited a movement that spread across the world and for us at Arts Connect it was a catalyst for bringing renewed and sustained attention to the impact of our work and to the extent to which our organisational culture and practices advance the values we hold. It was therefore essential to us to be alongside 89 other cultural organisations in the region in signing up to the More than a Moment Pledge for radical action for the Black Creative Workforce, to honour and learn from lived experiences, be part of the learning conversations, of the network and to act.

What did this mean for us?

Intentionally bringing Equality, Diversity and Inclusion to the centre of our team conversations made a profound difference to our ability to make organisational progress. The process enabled us to share things with each other that we didn’t know or hadn’t been able to surface before. We were able to have conversations that were challenging and made us uncomfortable; we learned about existing expertise in the team; talked openly about lived experiences and articulated our frustrations and insecurities. We were then able to be honest about our collective knowledge gaps, to critically review our policy and practice, and to articulate our personal commitment to social justice.

“I thought I knew the challenge ahead of us…I didn’t. Through deep listening, reading and peeling away my preconceptions I now see the changes we have to make more clearly. I’m energised and inspired by the work we are doing.”
Reflection of a team member

And what did we do next?

We chose to commit to an extensive team development programme to shape a shared and comprehensive approach to our new EDI strategy, our current practice, and impact, by starting with a focus on race equality. We worked with leadership consultant Munira Thobani to start from first principles by connecting to our own experiences and commitment, analysing why so many plans and good intentions have failed over the years and then using Munira’s organisational development framework ‘Thobani 6Cs’ to audit and plan our actions.

“Working with Munira and the Arts Connect team to explore and set out our plans of action around equality, diversity and inclusion has helped me to reflect on all aspects of my work. Our discussions have enabled me to put practical steps in place to create opportunities that are relevant and accessible for the broad range of communities and individuals that we work with.”
Reflection of a team member

We developed a Theory of Change and used this to draft our first action plan.

The intended outcomes of our plan are that:

  • Our staff team is diverse and representative of the communities that we work with.
  • Children and young people exercise their agency and influence across our programme.
  • Participants in our programme are representative of the region’s diverse communities.
  • Our governance and programme is shaped by a diversity of relevant voices, views and opinions.
  • Our leadership and programme positively influences others to action and make change.
  • We have better knowledge, data and insight to make effective use of our resources and to ensure our EDI strategy targets are being met.

Alongside the planning work, we have been action focussed (trying different approaches and doing things differently) across the programme and we will continue to do this. Examples include creating new paid roles for younger artists and recent graduates, inviting a wider diversity of speakers and presenters at our events and co-constructing sessions with them, trialling new recruitment approaches and making new connections with groups new to us, expanding our focus on diversifying youth voice and leadership.

As a part of the University of Wolverhampton we are signatories to industry charters that require action to secure equity for women, people who identify as LGBTQ+, people with disabilities and people who are Black, Asian, African or Caribbean heritage and from ethnically diverse backgrounds. We will incorporate the commitments expected of us under these charters into our work and our behaviours.

“The biggest thing I have learned is that this isn’t just a business exercise or something that gets ‘completed’ but a reflective practice of how I operate in this world, and how my intentional actions could actually make a positive difference to someone’s life.”

Reflection of a team member

What Next?

Our action plan is due to be signed off by the Board and we will publish it on this page when that is done .

If you would like to discuss how your setting can be part of our programmes, contact us via this button: