An increasing amount of research is highlighting an issue within our arts organisations. The issue is a lack of diversity, in governance, the workplace and even in program selection. Essentially only a few arts organisations reflect the diversity of their community. We believe the solution lies firstly in achieving diversity in governance. When our Boards and Committees enact a diversity policy, they set an example for the remainder of the organisation to follow.
Diversity in governance is more than gender equality. It’s not even about accurately reflecting the general diversity of the a community. That may not even be practical. Diversity is about having the right mix of people to enable your organisation to make good decisions, artistically and operationally.
Those decisions must reflect not only the needs of funders and stakeholders but also the audiences and wider family of supporters. Those decisions need to be viewed by that wider family as being relevant and inclusive. If not, you risk losing supporters – and revenue.
As at 2 April 2018, CALD Australians were under-represented across every leadership role in every cultural sector, organisational type and jurisdiction included in this study. According to the Australian Human Rights Commission, 39% of the Australian population — more than one in three Australians — have a CALD background. The Australia Council for the Arts has also found that CALD Australians have higher than average live attendance and creative participation rates in the arts than the rest of the Australian population.
There are a number of strategies arts organisations may implement in their journey towards becoming a more inclusive organisation. The transformation begins at the top – with a board diversity policy and a process for accountability. Diversity must be seen to be experienced. Only when others see your Board or Committee demonstrate a commitment to diversity, then they too will want to be a part of the journey.
The business case for greater diversity is growing. Competition for funding – especially from Australia Council – is ferocious. Not only might diversity help your organisation stand out from the competition, it may even be the aspect that gets your funding submission onto the short list.
art4u.australia is preparing a seminar and workshop series titled Diversity in Governance of Arts Organisations. These have been scheduled for 2021. Early bird prices are available to those registered prior to the end of 2020. Places at each event are limited. We have designed these events to provide arts organisations with the strategies and tools to help them improve diversity in their governance.