The Runnymede Trust and Freelands Foundation are working together on a ground-breaking partnership to deliver the first major research commission into access to the visual arts for Black, Asian and ethnically diverse students in the UK.
Runnymede Trust, the UK’s leading race equality think-tank, will deliver a two-year programme that spans 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 was launched in July 2022 with a Call for Evidence inviting contributions from students, teachers, art educators, artists and the wider sector.
The final report will be published in early 2023, 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 Runnymede 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.
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.
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.
This project will be delivered by our dedicated team who have an extensive background within the Arts and Education sector.
Matt Johnson, Senior Researcher; as well as Visualise, Matt works with a number of our high impact research projects at the Runnymede Trust, such as Sony Music Entertainment, the Living Wage Foundation and on new emerging research projects.
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).
Simon Hood, Research Analyst; as well as Visualise, Simon works on a number of projects at the Runnymede Trust, including with Sony Music Entertainment and Greenpeace.
Banner image: Ruha Benjamin, Occupation Of Negroes and Whites In Georgia, featuring Ella Baker and W.E.B Dubois, 2021