Why Arts Council England must take a step change in its funding to Black and Brown organisations, starting this year.

Image credit: Paul Ayre

This article, written by Kevin Osborne, is also published on his LinkedIn page.

The war in Ukraine, the cost-of-living crisis, the Northern Ireland protocol, levelling up and partygate have pushed Black Lives Matter from the headlines. And the priority given to underlying racial inequalities – in education, criminal justice and the arts – has gone too. As some predicted, the pendulum is swinging back to the ‘old normal’.

In October 2022 the largest public funder of the arts (Arts Council England) will announce the successful applicants to its £1bn National Portfolio funding programme. The funding of BAME* organisations within this scheme is currently at a shockingly low 2.4% (it should be 14% to be racially equitable).

Small incremental increases won’t be enough. Even if Arts Council England increased its funding to Black and Brown organisations at 2% above inflation in all future funding rounds, it would still take 140 years to achieve racially equitable funding. This is untenable. Equity delayed is equity denied.

We are calling on ACE to make a step change increase in funding to at least 7%. It has taken 75 years to achieve the current low level, so a rise to 7% in a single funding round would be a significant step to making racially equitable funding a reality.

These funding applications are being assessed now and decisions will be made by the autumn. So, we are running a social media campaign over the next 4 weeks to drive our aim to achieve equitable funding in the arts by 2031, starting with a significant increase this year.

Make your voice heard and show your support by liking, sharing and commenting every Wednesday on LinkedIn.

* We have used the abbreviation BAME. We recognise the diversity of individual identities and lived experiences, and understand that BAME is an imperfect term that does not fully capture the racial, cultural and ethnic identities of people that experience structural and systematic inequality.