2. Identifying trends, barriers and opportunities for disabled people working in the sector
Arts Council England called on EW Group to look into sector workforce development as it relates to disabilities. In 2016, the level of disabled representation within the arts and culture workforce was as low as 4%. The aim of the research was to improve understanding within the organisation of disabled people’s experiences and perceptions of the arts and culture workforce. ACE also wanted to identify any barriers to entry and progression, and gauge what can be done about them.
Our diversity research team was led by Imogen Blood and Mark Robinson, and supported by Geoff Adams-Spink and Dr Tom Shakespeare.
Our fieldwork brought together a range of audiences for face-to-face and online consultations, including:
- Disabled employees across the sector
- Disability champions from ACE NPOs
- Disabled young people pre-employment
- Disabled candidates who have been unsuccessful in job applications
- NPO HR Directors, Learning and Development leads, and Chief Executives.
The centrepiece of the data gathering was a full-day Open Space workshop. This provided best practice examples of talent attraction, recruitment and retention, as well as recommendations for future diversity strategy.
Our final research report, ‘Making a Shift’, includes sets of recommendations for short-, medium- and long-term action planning, clustered under the following themes:
Awareness and Understanding – increasing understanding and awareness of the creative achievements and potential of disabled people, and of their access needs.
Entry and Progression – creating a more supportive environment for disabled people to progress in the arts and culture workforce by making a shift in how the sector works.
Support and Shift – making it possible for more disabled people to have productive and varied careers in arts and culture.