Equity, diversity, inclusion, and decolonization
Signs and effects of anti-Black racism in the arts
(Original published in November 2021)
In this issue: Insights into equity issues in the arts, particularly anti-Black racism, including the challenging employment situation of racialized workers in Canada’s screen-based industry, insufficient philanthropic investment in Black-led organizations in Canada, the relative lack of diversity on the boards of Canadian not-for-profit organizations, and the pandemic’s effects on racialized arts workers in the United Kingdom. Collectively, the reports remind arts sector leaders that post-pandemic “regeneration” may be required, rather than “recovery” to the pre-pandemic situation.
Changing the Narrative
2020 Status of Canadian Black, Indigenous and People of Colour in Canada's Screen-based Production Sector
Reelworld Screen Institute, 2020
Authors: Maria DeRosa and Marilyn Burgess
The intent of this report is “to measure and benchmark employment conditions of Black, Indigenous and People of Colour (BIPOC) in Canada and the extent to which they participate equitably in Canada’s booming screen-based production sector and shape screen content”. The analytical methods include a literature review, 13 “interviews with BIPOC freelance professionals and industry representatives, and a survey of 663 self-identified BIPOC freelance professionals working in the screen-based production sector across the country”.
The report describes the survey respondents as “highly educated, highly experienced professionals who work in a wide range of occupations in the film and television industry”. Despite their education and experience, there is a “dearth of BIPOC stories and of BIPOC professionals in creative leadership positions (as showrunners, directors, producers)”, which presents “a major impediment to employment for BIPOC talent and other professionals”.
One-half of survey respondents (50%) indicated that they have found it difficult or very difficult to access job opportunities. The survey probed respondents’ perceptions of the barriers that they have faced, and the report highlights the fact that more than one-quarter of respondents (28%) believe that they have been subject to overt discrimination (i.e., feeling “excluded from job opportunities because [they are] a BIPOC professional”). Other barriers include feeling overlooked for job opportunities (45%), being unaware of job opportunities (42%), lacking access to opportunities in their specific field, role, or specialization (also 42%), and lacking “access to professional networks that could help [them] access job opportunities” (39%).
The report concludes that “this survey of BIPOC professionals finds that far-reaching change is needed to improve access to employment opportunities and adjust the colour balance in Canada’s screen-based production industry”. The authors recommend four “future directions” to lower to the barriers faced by BIPOC professionals in the industry:
1) Tracking and reporting: The current lack of “reliable data is an obstacle to measuring and evaluating policies and programs designed to cultivate a screen-based production industry inclusive of BIPOC professionals”. The report points to the United Kingdom’s Diversity Analysis Monitoring Data project (DIAMOND) as a model “to benchmark and track the participation of BIPOC professionals in the industry, both on- and off-screen”.
2) Incentives and targets: Interviewees for the project believe that funding targets "by public agencies and broadcasters would be an effective strategy to facilitate equitable access to employment”. The report provides another example from the United Kingdom in this regard.
3) Inclusive workforce fostered by unions and guilds: The report notes that the interviewees “are of the view that consideration should be given to special membership categories that can facilitate the entry of BIPOC professionals” into unions and guilds.
4) Strengthened career development infrastructure: The report outlines a need “for more employment-focused, pathway-driven professional development”, which would “encourage the growth and development of networks between BIPOC professionals in the industry”.
Unfunded: Black Communities Overlooked by Canadian Philanthropy
Network for the Advancement of Black Communities and Carleton University’s Philanthropy and Nonprofit Leadership Program, 2021
Authors: Rachel Pereira, Liban Abokor, Fahad Ahmad, and Firrisaa Jamal Abdikkarim
This report indicates that “the systemic racism and hardships faced by Black people in Canada” demonstrate both insufficient investment from philanthropic organizations and “the inadequacy of public policy in addressing the concerns” of the “1.2 million people that comprise Canada’s diverse Black communities”. The findings in the report are based on pre-pandemic quantitative and qualitative evidence, with the quantitative information drawn from “a review of the funding portfolios of 40 Canadian foundations” and the qualitative findings from “interviews with ten Black and non-Black philanthropic leaders”. While inclusive of Black-led and Black-serving arts organizations, the sources do not specifically relate to the arts sector.
The quantitative evidence shows that:
● Black-serving and Black-led community organizations are underfunded by both public and private foundations. In 2017 and 2018, “only six of the 40 public and private foundations we reviewed funded Black-serving organizations…, and only two foundations funded Black-led organizations”.
● “Community foundations have a better record of funding Black-serving organizations, but both Black-serving and Black-led organizations remain under-funded…. Across all community foundations we reviewed, grants to Black-serving organizations represented a meagre 0.7 percent of total grants during the 2017 and 2018 fiscal years. Grants to Black-led organizations were only 0.07 percent of total grants made in the same period.”
● The funding that does exist “is sporadic, unsustained, and does not invest in the long-term capabilities” of Black-led and Black-serving organizations.
According to the interviews, Canada’s philanthropic sector “lacks the tools and knowledge to support Black communities effectively”. Despite a clear need for investment, “most of the interview participants indicated that philanthropic support of Black communities required drastic improvement”. Further, “there is little understanding about the needs and priorities of Black communities in philanthropic institutions. These shortcomings stem from a lack of data about the needs of Black communities, poor representation of and relationships with Black community organizations in dominant philanthropic institutions, and systemic barriers, including anti-Black racism, faced by Black communities.”
Based on these findings, the report indicates that “a dedicated Foundation for Black Communities is urgent and necessary to address the particular and complex needs of Black communities in Canada”.
Diversity of charity and non-profit boards of directors: Overview of the Canadian non-profit sector
Statistics Canada, February 2021
This Statistics Canada article is based on responses from 6,170 board members and 2,665 other representatives of not-for-profit organizations. Because of the non-random nature of the sample, Statistics Canada cautions that “no inferences about the overall makeup of charity and non-profit organization boards of directors should be made based on these results”. That being said, the survey provides “a good glimpse into the composition of the boards” of charities and other not-for-profit organizations, including “arts and culture” organizations (17% of respondents).
Regarding written policies related to the diversity of the organization’s board of directors, 40% of respondents indicated that their organization does not have such a policy, while 30% do. Another 23% of respondents did not know. Among respondents whose organizations have their main activity in the arts and culture, one-half (51%) do not have a written policy on the diversity of their boards of directors, compared with 29% that do. The remaining 20% of arts and culture respondents did not know.
The survey data show that, among all types of organizations, those with a written diversity policy have higher proportions of many diverse groups on their boards: “persons with a disability; First Nations, Métis or Inuit; visible minorities; immigrants; and LGBTQ2+ individuals”.
A comparison of the demographic composition of arts and culture boards with and without a written diversity policy is not available. However, the detailed data do allow for a comparison between the boards of arts and culture organizations and the averages for all types of organizations. The data show that arts and culture boards have slightly below-average representation of many diverse groups: “persons with a disability; First Nations, Métis or Inuit; visible minorities; and immigrants”. Arts and culture boards have an average representation of women and an above-average representation of LGBTQ2+ individuals.
COVID-19 and the Experience of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic Creative Entrepreneurs
MeWe360, December 2020
Authors: Kevin Osborne and James Doeser
Based on interviews with 20 “Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic” (BAME) creative entrepreneurs from different parts of the United Kingdom (but “with a focus on London”), this report attempts “to understand how the pandemic and the events of 2020 were affecting: [respondents’] ability to produce work; the ways they reach customers and audiences; income and expenditure; use of government support; [and] their plans for the future”.
The research team spoke with people from various ages and career stages who work in industries including “arts and crafts, events, branding, TV and film, digital content, fashion, dance and music”. Representation was less broad on different counts: respondents were predominantly men; there were no East Asian interviewees; and people working in film and television were overrepresented. Because of the nature of the respondent group, the researchers recognize that it “is not representative or reflective of the wider sector or the British BAME experience” and that “generalisations should be made with caution”.
In terms of the impacts on their work, respondents were in varied situations. Some creative entrepreneurs have seen their work opportunities decrease significantly because of the COVID-19 pandemic and related lockdown measures. Others reported having “their best year ever, either in terms of business growth, personal recognition or job satisfaction. [However,] their fear is that the heightened interest in diversity will slowly evaporate, and that 'recovery’ will mean giving up any gains made.”
Regarding customers and audiences, the report argues that British cultural life is “increasingly informed by BAME producers and more attentive to BAME audiences”, as “cultural tastes and engagement patterns are increasingly moving away from traditional passive experience of a canonical elite culture towards a more immersive and experiential participation in all kinds of genres and artforms”. For one respondent, “we’re using our voice in a way that we’ve not been able to use it before”.
In order to increase their capacity, BAME creative entrepreneurs want three kinds of support: “finance in the form of grants that don’t require jumping through the hoops of White gatekeepers, training and expertise for business growth and development and, finally, a sense of community and connection”.
More broadly, “BAME entrepreneurs want and need power and capital”. In the current environment, “power is still held by a minority of predominantly White elite”. One respondent questioned whether Black or diverse creative businesses are being supported: “there are more diverse projects being made. But they're not necessarily being made by diverse companies.” Over the longer term, the report argues that commitments related to equity and diversity “will fail unless power in the decision-making process is ceded to the people [that decision-makers] are seeking to attract and advantage”.
Rather than sector “recovery”, the report argues for an investment in “regeneration (i.e., creating new systems, new structures and new leaders)” to develop a sector that is “more equitable and as a result more resilient”.
This publication was originally funded through a pilot project with the Azrieli Foundation, the Metcalf Foundation, and the Rozsa Foundation. It is reproduced here for ease-of-access only (and without any paywall).