I was a respondent at the Creative Case conference in Manchester – The following things struck me during the Corse of the day:
Curious that a Council of the Arts launches its creative case for diversity well after its other business, moral and legal cases have been made.
One key note speech asserted that large arts institutions need to be recognising the historical contribution of diverse artists and quoted Kwame Kwei-Armah’s “That which is not articulated does not exist”, yet there was no reference to the years of diversity initiatives and champions within the Arts Council itself that had led up to this conference.
Regarding evolution, a question from the audience wanted to know who had been consulted in the formulation of the creative case and what its democratic credentials were. This ‘top down’ perception was not really addressed by the panel.
Concerns from arts organisations were raised about the conflict between having to develop robust business plans, while adhering to diversity driven policies that encouraged experimentation, risk and potential failure.
In answer, the creative case was re-positioned as an approach and provocation, rather than a policy or strategy. In the light of diversity being a muscular aspect of future N.P.O’s funding agreements, it appears that the Creative Case is offered as an inspirational guide.
Provoking the realities of inclusivity was Leroy Moore, an African American disabled artist from Sins Invalid in San Francisco. He conjured up ‘the room’ where artistic ideas get hatched, and questioned how we get diversity into that room, and by exampling the failures of the Atlanta Paralympics, highlighted the necessity for securing legacy. Also how to maintain the ownership of work by black disabled artists when reflected in the mirror of large partners or corporations.
Finally I felt one of the most pertinent points was raised by a delegate who shifted the responsibility onto the large arts institutions, by asking them how do they make themselves more attractive to the many capable diverse practitioners, managers and leaders out there, so that they want to come and work for their companies.