Over the past few months of working on my first positive action programme, I’ve noticed something. People who are totally liberal and on the side of diversity giving off a sense of ‘but we do this already’ or even ‘why are we still talking about this?’
I’m not here to discredit the work anyone is doing and I’m not for using ‘diversity’ as a term to simply fill a tick box but it makes me wonder why we’re on different pages with this.
It’s worth me considering that I’m still fairly new to the sector. I’ve been working in the arts (in some capacity) on and off for around 6 years. This is nothing in comparison to some and perhaps after another 20 years I’ll be asking the same question… if so, hopefully I remember to re-read this post.
There are organisations doing some great work when it comes to bettering representation in the sector (as they should be) but we’re not yet at a point of equal representation. Children still aren’t seeing themselves represented in the theatre or even on the TV so we can’t simply stop talking about it because it’s better than it was 20 years ago.
Having it on your radar when making decisions around programming or casting is one thing but if we want to continue seeing progress across the sector, we have to keep talking about it. Not only that, but we have to keep widening the pool of people in the conversation.
Too often I’ve attended meetings and events talking about diversity with the people speaking all representing the majority that is White British, Non D/deaf or Disabled. Being well intentioned in yourself is one thing but you can’t get past your own unconscious bias without having it challenged and that challenge is seldom going to come from people who look, act and think like you do, with the same groups of friends and the same privileges.
So in answer to ‘Why are we still talking about this?’… because we’ve still not got the right people in the room to have a truly valuable and insightful discussion. Maybe once every board, every panel and every organisation has better, more equal representation we can stop and start a new book, but for now – can we please get this right?
Featured image: Street art outside Sneinton Market, Nottingham