Our commitment to Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

Our CEO, Iain Munro, writes on the impact of the Black Lives Matter movement and Creative Scotland’s commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion.

Iain Munro

Photo: Iain Munro, by Neil Hanna

In what is already a time of great change, this feels like a critical moment for us all. A moment that perhaps future generations will look back on and judge whether we responded to make the fundamental changes needed to eradicate racism and inequality.

Twenty-seven years after the racist murder of Stephen Lawrence and twenty-one years after the Macpherson Report, the Black Lives Matter movement has exposed once more the systemic racism that persists around the world and within our own country. In listening to 'Black and Creative in Scotland' over this last weekend, I was further reminded that significant challenges and inequalities endure.

Combined with a Covid-19 pandemic which poses the very real threat of deepening social, economic and health inequalities yet further, it is clear that positive words must be backed by real action.

I am very conscious that as a white man in a senior role, I am writing from a privileged position. I understand the responsibility of those who can help make change happen, to listen, learn and act. This includes me and Creative Scotland.

As the national body for creative development, we have a responsibility to ensure our work and our support reflects the diversity of Scotland’s population; and that opportunities to create, participate or work in the arts, screen and creative industries are accessible, inclusive and open to everyone, irrespective of their background.

And while we have made progress in embedding principles of equality and diversity in our strategies and practices, now is the time for us to renew our commitment to helping tackle racism and all forms of prejudice and inequality.

This includes the establishment of an Equality and Diversity Advisory Group which will have a role as our critical friend, help us with gaining insights and become better informed about key issues to ensure we deliver change. We will begin recruitment soon with the aim of having the group in place by the end of August at the latest.

We are also reinvigorating our commitment to diversifying who receives and benefits from our support. It is clear too much creative potential remains unrecognised and invisible across Scotland.

We will continue our Create:Inclusion fund, established in 2019 to help increase the diversity of people in the arts, screen and creative industries. The fund helps recipients to develop their creative and professional practice, including research and development of new work, developing collaborations, and exploring different ways to develop organisations. There will be another round later this year.

Whilst Create:Inclusion is a specific, equality and diversity focused programme, we equally recognise the need to actively prioritise equalities, diversity and inclusion across all our programmes of support. All Regularly Funded Organisations are required to have an Equalities, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Action Plan and we have taken further steps through recent revisions to our Open Fund. However, there is more to do in order to ensure all opportunities are accessible and that the beneficiaries are truly representative of the diversity of Scotland.

We are committed to taking this further as we progress with a new strategy and funding framework throughout 2020/21. We will create clearer and more visible indicators against refreshed Equalities Outcomes and look further at how best to ensure a diverse range of voices and perspectives inform our decision making.

Partnership initiatives will also continue. In Screen, this includes working with the British Film Institute on Diversity Standards as a way to help address under-representation in film and screen.

We will also open up the opportunity for two further Diversity Agents for Change posts in Scotland. These will build on our existing partnerships with the City of Edinburgh Council and Glasgow Life to establish dedicated roles which help improve representation and employment in the arts, the diversity of arts programming, and the engagement with participants and audiences from diverse ethnic backgrounds.

We are also committed to diversifying our workforce to ensure that Creative Scotland itself is fully inclusive and that all staff work to mainstream equalities, diversity and inclusion in all that we do. This includes our recruitment processes, an expanded and mandatory programme of training for all staff and Board, and deepening the work of our internal Equalities Working Group.

Although these examples are all positive and important steps, we know we can, and must, go further and will say more about all of our work in relation to EDI when we publish our annual business plan in a few weeks’ time.

Those who know me well, know I have deeply held values of respect, integrity and inclusion. My usual approach is one of quiet conviction, but this is a time to be unequivocal. Black lives matter and EDI is an absolute priority for Creative Scotland this year and beyond. We will listen, and we will act, in order to play our role in creating a Scotland where the fundamental importance of equality, diversity and inclusion is understood, and creative activity is valued as vital to the lives of everyone.

Iain Munro
Chief Executive
Creative Scotland