Arts Council England will begin publishing workforce diversity data for the individual organisations it funds and use this data to inform future funding decisions, its chair has announced.
Sir Peter Bazalgette launched the organisation’s Creative Case for Diversity programme in a speech today, which he has called "one of the most important speeches I’ll make as chair of Arts Council England".
He said that the arts sector was "not reacting fast enough to the changes in society": although the proportion of the UK population identified as white British in 2011 was 80 per cent – compared with 88 per cent in 2001 – the proportion of white people in the creative and cultural workforce had risen from 92 per cent to 93 per cent over the past five years.
Bazalgette said that from next year, the council will monitor and support its 670 national portfolio organisations – the recipients of its larger grants – to ensure their programming reflects the diversity of contemporary England, and publish and comment on this information.
He said: "The progress our funded organisations make with the diversity of their programmes, their audiences, their artists and their workforce, will inform the decisions we take on their membership of the next national portfolio after 2018."
According to Bazalgette, organisations funded by the Arts Council have all been required to implement equality action plans for some time, but this new programme enshrines it as a potential make-or-break factor in funding decisions.
He said: "For things to change in the long term, they need to become more uncomfortable at the top. We have to open up access to power and to resources. Looking up, too many see the white cliff-face of the arts establishment and feel they just cannot climb it."
In the year to 31 March 2014, the council handed £311m to its national portfolio organisations, out of a total spending on charitable activities of £457m, according to its annual report.
The week before, it had announced its new national portfolio for 2015 to 2018. Several charities that had previously been funded were dropped from the portfolio.
Last month, the council was told by a cross-party committee of MPs to rectify urgently a "clear funding imbalance" that currently favours London over the rest of the country.