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.
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.
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