Freelands Foundation and Runnymede Trust announce a partnership to deliver the first major research commission into access to the visual arts for Black, Asian and ethnically diverse students in the UK.
The report will be published in Autumn 2022, detailing how and why young people from non-white backgrounds are excluded from art education, alongside proposing practical recommendations to address the issue.
Runnymede will deliver a two-year research programme that spans from early engagement with art in schools to the makeup of the professional sector. In 2017, the DfE recorded that children in UK schools (of whom 31% were “minority ethnic”) were introduced to visual art by teachers who were 94% white.
A catalyst for change?
The initiative aims to catalyse long-term structural change in a sector where, despite the success of individual artists such as Sonia Boyce, Lubaina Himid, Steve McQueen and Chris Ofili, only 2.7% of the workforce are from a Black, Asian or ethnically diverse background.
The commission will consider the importance of both opportunity and aspiration in art education, asking whether young people in the UK see their diversity reflected in the art industry and how this shapes their engagement with visual culture. A sector-wide review published in Autumn 2021 will map the representation of Black, Asian and ethnically diverse artists, curators and organisational leadership.
Following this, an in-depth investigation into art education in secondary schools will gather new data around racial inequalities amongst students and teachers and within the curriculum. The commission will measure and analyse access to art education across different ethnic groups, with an intersectional approach to the research.
Study to explore blockages for black and Asian students
Concurrently, a large-scale consultation with art teachers, academic leaders, exam boards, students, artists and cultural organisations across the country will identify the challenges and blocks for non-white students.
The research will focus in particular on Key Stages 3 & 4 (11-16 years), to capture the transition from compulsory to elective art education. Existing information points to the importance of early engagement at secondary school level, as by ‘A’ level Black and Asian students select Art courses at less than half the rate of their white counterparts.
The final report will include a clear set of guidelines, recommendations and plans for teaching and training resources, with the aim to empower arts and education organisations to enact long-term structural changes towards greater inclusion.
Runnymede Trust's 2020 report into Race and Racism in Secondary Schools demonstrated the effect on Black, Asian and ethnically diverse students of their dramatic underrepresentation by 8% of teachers (across all subjects) and 3% of headteachers from “Black and minority ethnic” backgrounds.
If you have an interest in access to the arts for Black students, please contact the Runnymede Trust for more information.