It’s just over a year since we launched the Arts Council’s Equality, Human Rights and Diversity [EHRD] Policy and Strategy at the Places Matter conference in NUI Galway. The EHRD policy has set us an ambitious series of actions and targets over the coming years to ensure both the Arts Council and the arts sector is more accessible to and representative of Ireland in all its diversity. The prospect of reflecting modern Ireland in the arts is deeply exciting and energizing.
One year on, we’re facing an unprecedented period of challenge, as we seek to navigate the changing world around us. Now more than ever, issues of equality, inclusion and access matter.
Both I, and the Arts Council’s Board and Executive are committed to driving the EHRD policy forward, and will ensure that it is to the forefront of our roadmap to recovery. We know that the Covid-19 crisis will have repercussions for everyone, but will disproportionately impact the arts and in particular, those already experiencing inequality. We must ensure that those who are currently marginalized are not further disadvantaged by the current crisis.
As reported in our January newsletter, the policy’s action plan is being implemented on an ongoing basis, by our Strategic Development Manager, Monica Corcoran, with the support of Project Lead, Olwen Dawe. Both Monica and Olwen have been working on revising the EHRD Policy’s action plan to ensure that aspects of the plan constrained by Covid19 restrictions can still be progressed in a timely manner. We’re hopeful that we can still achieve a great deal, even against this more challenging backdrop.
Last month, we released our first data report, which sets out the individual applications and recipients in 2019, according to gender. The overall application ratio is 61:39 Female:Male. However this tended to vary across artforms, as did the amounts requested. But we were pleased to see that recipients in all awards generally equated with the level of application by gender. The full report is available to read here and we welcome any queries or feedback.
This data collection process is being expanded on an ongoing basis, and future reports will offer further insight on diversity across all programmes and grants. This will provide a transparent breakdown in the level of engagement across Arts Council supports, whilst also ensuring we track our progress. Our next report will be due in the autumn, and will include data on gender, ethnicity and disability in respect of our individual awards applicants.
In recent times, many people have read and admired Elizabeth Strout’s latest novel Olive, Again. I was especially arrested by a line in the novel from Olive when she meets her new caregiver Halima. ‘Tell me what it’s like to be you,’ she appeals to her new acquaintance. This will strike at the heart of a number of consultative focus groups for artists from diverse backgrounds that we’ll hold over the course of the summer, using online platforms. We need to come to know and understand and reflect the full diversity of experience of what it means to live in Ireland today. Further details will be circulated in due course via our website, and in the meantime, we’ll be delighted to receive expressions of interest. If you would like to participate, please complete this form.
Our EHRD Policy was developed as a living document; we want and need people to share this journey with us. We’re always happy to hear new ideas, particularly from people we haven’t talked to before. If you’d like to get in touch with us please contact Monica Corcoran or Olwen Dawe via email (firstname.lastname@example.org / email@example.com) or at 01 6180200. In the meantime, please stay safe and well and thank you for helping us develop our work in this area.