Joint report of the Head of HR, Interim Artistic Director and Director of Innovation and Engagement.
The Board considered a joint report of the Head of HR, Interim Artistic Director and Director of Innovation and Engagement providing the annual Equality and Inclusion update on the work underway to develop a new strategy for 2020 onwards.
Officers acknowledged that whilst there had been some good progress since last year, the timeliness of reviewing equality and inclusion was more significant than ever following the recent impact of the BLM movement highlighting how much more needed to be done. The Barbican has since initiated Listen and Learn sessions for BAME staff to input into and Taskforce has been set up to review work and practices.
The Chair of the Barbican Centre Trust advised that greater diversity of Trustees was also important, and she intended to step down as chair to allow new talent to emerge.
The Chair advised Members that the City Corporation’s Tackling Racism Taskforce (TRT) was working quickly on all issues and encouraged the Team to input on issues within the cultural workstream that was in development.
A Member was concerned that separate BAME groups and networks were another form of segregation for BAME staff and colleagues and felt that groups should be open to all. Several Members disagreed with this view and a Member stated that affinity groups were considered good practice and a safe space for the group in question find their voice and space within an organisation. The Member added that since joining the Board he had and would continue to explore the diversity question and highlighted the importance of diversity of perspective as morally right and creating value in a post-Covid world. It was accepted that there was privilege on the Board, and they should look at what others were doing better to understand what racism was and to ensure diverse content. The Chair agreed and wanted the Board and the Barbican to be truly diverse in all aspects.
A Member advised that it was common for organisations to have BAME networks as they were safe spaces to express solidarity. It was noted that the LSE BAME Network took research to senior staff concerning BAME frontline staff who were predominantly BAME and more likely to die from Covid-19 which forced development of mitigations in practice.
A Member recommended looking across the piece at staff at all levels and how frequently the Board considered issues of diversity and inclusion. Members agreed this should be a more important part of the narrative and requested more regular information on these issues to ensure progress was being monitored. A Member added that options including best practice in the industry should also be included. Officers agreed that on top of the annual equality and inclusion update, information could be included in the Management report for each meeting.
The Chair advised that he planned to do a full review what reports came to the Board received and how frequently they should come.
A Member was interested in diverse content, how it was selected and diversity figures on audiences. Members were advised that the previous Artistic Director had pushed heavily for diverse content in programming and this would continue for all artforms. It was acknowledged that more could be done in areas such as classical and this was being thought about by curators.
A Member emphasised that whilst programming was changing, there was still a struggle for good diversity data in the industry and welcomed examples from other arts organisations. Officers agreed that whilst this was a gap in the industry, others were doing better, and the Centre was proactively working over three years to overcome this. it was agreed that just because something was complicated, it should not be a barrier. A Member requested that this data be brought to the Board annually to show what has been achieved and help diversify the programme and ultimately audiences.
RESOLVED – That Members endorse the proposed way forward.