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26 February 2021

King's academics research what works to increase diversity in the creative sector

In support of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Creative Diversity’s initial inquiry, the systematic approach enables the inclusion of effective strategies and interventions from beyond the sector.

All-Party Parliamentary Group for Creative Diversity logo

COVID-19 has exacerbated a long-standing crisis of inequality in the creative industries. Supporting the sector in its efforts to address this will be crucial as businesses and organisations rebuild and recover.

The All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Creative Diversity, co-chaired by Chi Onwurah MP and Baroness Deborah Bull, was formed in May 2019 to identify obstacles to diversity and inclusion in the creative sector and to draw on best practice to provide recommendations for industry and government that will establish effective practices in recruiting, retaining and developing diverse talent.

Dr Tamsyn Dent (Research Fellow) and Dr Natalie Wreyford (Research Associate), based in the Department for Culture, Media and Creative Industries (CMCI) in the Faculty of Arts & Humanities are conducting a systematic literature review into the question of ‘what works’ to boost diversity and inclusion in an employment context. Dr Dave O’Brien, Chancellor’s Fellow, Cultural and Creative Industries at the University of Edinburgh is the group’s research lead.

The APPG Creative Diversity has created an opportunity to think about good employment practice in the UK’s creative and cultural sector and benchmarks some of the valuable work that is already taking place against the wider literature on positive employment interventions for an inclusive workforce. We have been able to hear from different individuals, organisations, companies both large and small about the changes they are making and relate that back to the wider literature. Given what we know about what doesn’t work in terms of employment practices in this sector, this collaborative project is a crucially important opportunity to consider what does.

Dr Tamsyn Dent, Research Fellow on the DISCE project and the APPG for Creative Diversity

The systematic approach enables the inclusion of effective strategies and interventions from beyond the creative and cultural sector, which can be considered in relation to the specific working structures within the creative economy that are being gathered through a public consultation.

Thus far, seven roundtable sessions focussed on diversity and inclusion in different creative industries, including fashion, video games, film & TV, music and theatre & dance. Through these sessions, evidence submissions and the global literature review, the project will detail the variety of ways that the industry can engage with a wide and diverse range of talent and construct sustainable, inclusive approaches to opportunities and access. Recommendations will be formulated for both, the sector and government in a comprehensive research report, which will be published in summer 2021.

The partnership between the APPG and CMCI was brokered and is supported by the university’s Culture team. Beatrice Pembroke, Executive Director for Culture, said ‘The Culture team exists to support, strengthen and showcase the work of the broadest possible cultural community at King’s. This partnership, which brings new opportunities to staff and demonstrates the impact of academic analysis within the cultural sector is a great example of how King’s connections beyond the university bring symbiotic value.’

I am delighted that King’s researchers are involved in this important inquiry. Arts and culture are playing a crucial role in bringing communities together in these challenging times and will play a part in our nation’s recovery. Creative careers will continue to have much to offer – not least because of their resistance to automation – and yet access to those careers remains uneven. This matters, because representation matters: if the workforce is skewed, then so is the message. In light of this current situation, which presents such a threat to our creative industries, we must double down on our efforts to identify ways to address this challenge.

Baroness Deborah Bull, Vice President & Vice-Principal (London), Senior Advisory Fellow for Culture at King’s and co-chair of the APPG for Creative Diversity