Corey Mwamba


d = r + c

The reason why I'm writing about diversity now is that I've had the same discussion many times over the years. The last two times [one of them with Steve Lawson] have been with people who Get It. And in fact, I'm sure quite a few people Get It. But expressing It in the arts can feel difficult, laboured. So here is my attempt; and just so everyone feels comfortable I won't use the word from now on.

Equity is fair treatment. Equality is equal status. It is important to realise that you can have one without the other, and here as before I will say that they are not interchangeable.

There are inequities and inequalities within British society and culture that mean that given a sample of people with the same educational, social, and economic statuses, the white people in that sample are more likely to have an advantage in terms of treatment and respect of their status. If we were to take a sample of people who were the same ethnicity but with different educational, social, and economic statuses, these inequities and inequalities [or biases] shift. If we include physical abilities, the biases shift again. There are many levels.

As people, we can identify these biases. Within our work, we can then plan to militate against these biases, so that we can reach as many people as possible.

This process of identifying potential problems and planning solutions should not be alien to anyone. We plan all the time for arts projects. It is always important that our plans have rigour. Militating against issues is just part of being rigorous; and identifying problems is just part of being careful.

Rigour and care take a lot of work, time and self-reflectivity. In doing this work we can discover that we don't do as well as we think. This can be hard to admit. It can feel invasive. But we know it has to be done.

Primarily, people just want to experience interesting art. Sometimes, people need to see people like them doing incredible, wonderful things. Sometimes, people want experience those things in their own environs. None of these things is mutually exclusive; and so there is no reason to treat them as such when planning a varied, high quality programme. When people flick through your brochures or examine your web-site, your care and attention to the details of the city/town/village are laid bare—and noted.

Rigour and care affect other people, but are both elements of work you have to do on yourself. Part of that work involves leaving your desk/building and talking to people who are not like you. If you want to reach as many people as you can, then actually know or get a sense of who and where these people are. Audience models and a map are helpful; but that is just rigour. You also have to care about your work and who might want to see it. If you can identify that you don't know who they are, then plan to find out.

If you are not applying rigour and care to your work; or only applying rigour and care as an afterthought to your work; then quite simply there's something wrong with your work.

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