We are joining forces with Freelands Foundation to deliver the first major research commission into access to the visual arts for Black, Asian and ethnically diverse students in the UK.
The report will detail how and why young people from non-white backgrounds are excluded from art education, alongside proposing practical recommendations to address the issue.
This two-year programme, will span from early engagement with art in schools to the makeup of the professional sector.
In 2017, the DfE recorded that children in UK schools (of whom 31% were “minority ethnic”) were introduced to visual art by teachers who were 94% white.
The project will be launched in early 2022, with the publication of a manifesto and literature review outlining existing research. This paper will outline debates around racial equality and art education from the 1970s to the present day, and highlight the current situation for students, teachers and art educators in the UK.
The final report will be published in December 2022, following a year of in-depth research and consultation, detailing exactly how and why young people from non-white backgrounds are not accessing art education and aspiring to careers in the arts. A specialist project team at Runnymede Trust will work with teachers, exam boards and artists to understand the representation of Black, Asian and ethnically diverse artists in teaching. The work will focus on secondary Key Stages 3 & 4, with consideration of art education at primary and tertiary levels, as well as outside of schools settings.
Crucially, the report will propose practical recommendations and creative interventions to address the issue; and in 2023 will work in partnership with policy makers, funders and educators across the UK to embed these in the sector.
The initiative aims to catalyse long-term structural change in a sector where, despite the success of individual artists such as Sonia Boyce, Lubaina Himid, Steve McQueen and Chris Ofili, only 2.7% of the workforce are from a Black, Asian or ethnically diverse background.
This project will be delivered by our dedicated team who have an extensive background within the Arts and Education sector.
Kevin Dalton-Johnson, Creative Impact Lead, is an international artist, curator, qualified SENDCO and art educator who has taught in schools, prisons, PRUs and SEN contexts, with a focus on improving equality and inclusive practices in art education. Currently he is engaged in research at MMU exploring how untold narratives of Black teaching professional can improve inclusive practices in schools.
Rayvenn Shaleigha D’Clark, Project Researcher, is an artist, curator and researcher who works across a number of creative institutions as well as teaching at London College of Fashion (UAL).
Our school students are a blank canvas. It is imperative they are able to see and appreciate diversity in art. With representation comes inspiration, and I have no doubt that this project, led by Freelands Foundation and Runnymede Trust, will lend important data and evidence to the thus-far sparse study of equity and inclusion in the UK art sector.
Ultimately we believe that the impact of this research will resonate beyond a single generation and provide the foundation for developments in the teaching of art in our nation’s schools, and in turn help to inspire new generations of children who value, appreciate, and indeed fall in love with art in all its forms.
Elisabeth Murdoch, Founder and Chair of Freelands Foundation said:
We know that Black, Asian and ethnically diverse students face significant obstacles to studying art at every stage of their educational journey, not least because of a striking lack of representation in the curriculum and in art educators. This has the ripple effect on the lack of representation throughout the arts sector: from entry level, technical, curatorial, to leadership, at which point only 2% of managers in visual arts organisations identify as “BME”.
Whilst we have seen many successful Black, Asian and ethnically diverse British artists; this does not mean that we are not compelled to remove the barriers they faced for the next generation of students. Working with the Runnymede Trust, we will look at the ecosystem of art education as a whole to identify bold solutions that we believe will drive real change across the sector, creating greater opportunities for Black and ethnically diverse students to shape and enrich the visual art landscape of tomorrow.
Freelands Foundation was set up in 2015 to give an increased number of people the chance to engage with and enjoy the arts in the UK, with a particular focus on education. Their ambition is to give everyone access to a creative and cultural education in the belief that it raises their aspirations and transforms their opportunities in life.
They aim to do this in three ways: by advancing education to enable everyone, regardless of background or location, to take part in the creation and enjoyment of art; by empowering artists and arts organisations across the breadth of the UK to expand their reach in their communities; and by commissioning research that explores the value that art and culture bring to society.
Since launching, they have supported hundreds of art teachers by partnering with leading educational establishments such as the University College London Institute of Education. They have worked with more than 30 arts organisations across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to support artists and broaden their engagement in their communities. Their lighthouse initiatives include the Freelands Artist Programme, which partners arts organisations outside of London to support emerging artists. They have also hosted the public, educators and art practitioners at their London gallery space with a free programme of exhibitions, discussions and workshops that explore new approaches to teaching the visual arts and showcase their work from across the UK. Freelands Foundation was founded by Elisabeth Murdoch.
Banner image: Ruha Benjamin, Occupation Of Negroes and Whites In Georgia, featuring Ella Baker and W.E.B Dubois, 2021