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Peter Bazalgette: Diversity is industry’s ‘single biggest challenge’

Arts Council England chair Peter Bazalgette Arts Council England chair Peter Bazalgette
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Arts Council England chair Peter Bazalgette has described the issue of diversity as the “single biggest challenge facing the creative industries”.

Bazalgette was speaking as part of a panel at Soho Create festival, in which he labelled the past 50 years of culture as “absolutely lamentable” in terms of diversity.

“I have a couple of simple points. The first is, where public money goes, that money must be for the benefit of everybody. Secondly, you don’t get creative industries unless you draw on all the talents and we haven’t been doing that in many parts. People from relatively deprived backgrounds of whatever colour, creed or physical ability, if they don’t have the bank of mum and dad, they can’t go into casualised industries,” he said.

Bazalgette’s comments come just days after campaign group Act for Change renewed pressure on the performing arts industry to improve its diversity on and off stage.

Last December the ACE chair also launched the funding body’s new diversity strategy, as part of which organisations could risk losing their funding if they do not become more diverse.

Speaking at the panel discussion, which was held at Soho Theatre, Bazalgette said that as part of the new drive, ACE was calling on publicly funded organisations to “think not only about employment but about their audiences and their programming”.

“We are not nearly there, we have a huge amount to do and we really have to focus on it,” he added.

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