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Creative Scotland Arts Diversity Report

18 September 2017

Creative Scotland published their ‘Understanding Diversity in the Arts Report’ last month. The report echoes many of the issues highlighted in ‘Mapping the Visual Arts’ including significant gender pay gap, low levels of income and fragile working conditions across the sector. The report also explores wider barriers in more detail from a cross-art perspective.

The report had over 1,500 respondents and Creative Scotland note that this does not provide a census and that the survey is likely ‘to have attracted a positive bias from equalities groups’

Similar to Mapping the Visual Arts, there is a higher representation of women respondents. Visual artists are the highest respondent group at 32% of the total group, and visual arts sector as a whole the second highest at 27%. Highlights from the report show that across all specialisms respondents are highly educated, juggle portfolio working often in fragile freelance contexts, are urban centric, and higher than average having had private school education (14% compared with 4% in Scotland as a whole).

Some of the main barriers identified are economic limitations, cost of training, lack of connections, gender, nationality, ethnicity and disability. When looking at the data broken down by art form on each specific ‘barrier’ you can see a broad overview of all areas where respondents are reporting ‘very significant’ barriers within the visual arts sector. Actual percentages of respondents reporting barriers as ‘very significant’ varies between 1% (ethnicity, religion) and 24% (economic limitations), but the wider profile of survey respondents will affect these figures. For example, only 5% of total respondents are in minority or mixed groups. A few types of barriers within visual arts have a higher than average percentage than other art forms including economic limitations, lack of contacts, nationality and parental responsibilities.

In his foreword Phillip Devril, Director of Strategy at Creative Scotland states ‘Some of the issues raised are specific to our sector while many more reflect broader challenges for society as a whole.’ The Visual Arts Review and now this survey are important markers as they publically state that barriers do exist in the visual arts. However, we now need further analysis, or drilling down into the as yet unpublished qualitative data from this report to really understand visual arts specific challenges and the experiences of (anonymised) respondents.

In the Film Sector EDI report published earlier this year specific recommendations were made and are being progressed by a working group. Creative Scotland are currently recruiting for their new Head of Equalities, Diversity and Inclusion so I would imagine that we might see a similar report for the arts sector progressed once the new person is in post. SCAN will be doing internal desk based analysis of wider UK/European research and data to inform our own EDI strategy over the next six months. Please get in touch with me directly, [email protected], if you have any specific interest in visual arts equalities agendas.

- Seonaid Daly, Director SCAN


Creative Scotland Arts Diversity Report