Visualise: Race and Inclusion in Art Education

A research commission to understand racial inequality in art education and the visual arts sector

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 spring 2024, following 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 the 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.

Ruha Benjamin, Infographic of the proportion of Whites and Negroes in the different classes of occupation in the United States, featuring Aiyana Jones and W.E.B DuBois, 2021

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.

Ruha Benjamin, Infographic of the Georgia Negro. Assessed value of household and kitchen furniture owned by Georgia Negroes, featuring Amanda Smith and W.E.B DuBois, 2021

Dr Halima Begum, our former CEO, said:

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.

Our Research Team

This project will be delivered by our dedicated team who have an extensive background within the Arts and Education sector.

Marlene Wylie, Project Lead

Shabna Begum, Interim CEO

Matt Johnson, Senior Researcher

Simon Hood, Research Analyst

Banner image: Ruha Benjamin, Occupation Of Negroes and Whites In Georgia, featuring Ella Baker and W.E.B Dubois, 2021

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