Diversity Arts Australia, in collaboration with The British Council recently released a Creative Equity Toolkit, a resource for cultural diversity in the creative sector.
A video of the release of the release features Create NSW’s Senior Manager, Aboriginal Strategy and Engagement Peter White, writer and broadcaster Benjamin Law, 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art’s Director Mikala Tai along with Diversity Arts Australia Executive Director Lena Nahlous.
The toolkit is an online portal that provides arts organisations with access to resources on racism, cultural consultation, programming & commissioning, policy and protocol. The portal has been designed to become a constantly updated resource. New resources planned will provide tools for evaluation & monitoring, recruitment & employment, creative collaborations, marketing, governance and organisational culture.
During the release presentation Benjamin Law makes the point that racism is often not the obvious action, the public display; rather it is how the system is structured to create a cultural bias towards white people. Nowhere is this more obvious than at the decision making level; boards and management.
If a board or committee of management doesn’t reflect the diversity of the community, fails to have in place effective diversity policies and selects members using an inappropriate process, then a message is sent to the remainder of an organisation that systemic racism is acceptable, when it isn’t.
Nowhere is this more obvious than at the Commonwealth and State government level in Australia where policies have resulted in a disproportionate number of Indigenous people being imprisoned, with more than 140 deaths of Aboriginal people in custody. Essentially if we don’t change the policies, we don’t change the behaviours.
Board members have a lot of practical options available to them. They could start by reading the research report titled Shifting the Balance put together by Diversity Arts Australia in 2018. Then they could view the presentation to release the Creative Equity Toolkit and then register for a governance diversity seminar in 2021. In between start the conversation about diversity, institutional racism and equality within your own organisation.
I’m John Coxon, founder of art4u.australia, a consulting agency helping arts organisations to remain viable through application of The Cycle, a proven model for arts organisations. If you would like assistance with building diversity in your Board or Committee reach out to me.