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Watch: UAL on #CreativeCase live panel on diversity and disability in the arts

Mutli coloured book covers
Mutli coloured book covers
Image courtesy of UAL,
Written by
Cat Cooper
Published date
12 February 2019

Video starts at 16.18

UAL’s Head of Disability Service Caroline Huntley and Dean of Students Mark Crawley took part in a live panel discussion about diversity in the arts hosted by Arts Council England (ACE) this morning, outlining UAL’s work around accessibility and disability and its impact. Streamed live from the Barbican, the #CreativeCase panel also featured ACE Chair Sir Nicholas Serota and ACE Director of Diversity Abid Hussain, the Government’s disability champion for arts and culture, Andrew Miller and Head of BSO Participate (Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra), Lisa Tregale.

It marks the launch of ACE’s annual report on diversity in the arts and culture sector for 2017 –18, which includes data on the arts and culture workforce and leadership. The panel discussed the report and their work on a range of topics such as the under-representation of disabled people across the sector, emphasising that lessons could be learned from the higher education sector.

Andrew Miller set the scene, stating that one of the reasons the disabled workforce is so low is because “entry routes into the industry are very challenging for disabled artists and creatives”. Mark Crawley explained how UAL embarked on a process to improve our environment and representation around ten years ago - concerned by data around the success rates of disabled students and by a lower than expected number of students and staff declaring as disabled.

UAL Dean of Students Mark Crawley:

Creativity, social justice and equality are at the heart of what we do. Our graduates are the creative practitioners and creative leaders of the future and so it’s really important that we produce a very diverse range of people as part of the pipeline going into the sector.

UAL Head of Disability Service, Caroline Huntley on some of the proactive steps UAL has taken and the impact:

We’ve increased our spending significantly. We now spend around £3million on support services, these include provision of SpLD diagnostic assessments and an increase in access to professionals for disability and mental health to support staff and students.

Beyond investment, we’ve also thought about support and we’ve rolled out individual support agreements for students, disability and equality training and mental health training for staff at UAL, and we’ve thought about champions and how we streamline our services. This has led to us creating specialist roles in IT and in HR, and we have a disability and neurodiversity champion on our Board. What this has led to is 27% of our UK-based students and 11.1% of staff declaring that they identify as disabled people.

UAL believes that the diversity of our staff and student community is fundamental to creative thinking and innovation in the arts community. We are committed to removing barriers to progression and success and promoting understanding and awareness of equality, diversity and inclusion for all. Our Student Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Report 2018 provides an overview of the key initiatives undertaken for UAL students last year to promote equality, diversity and inclusion. It includes student demographic data for age, caring responsibilities, disability, gender, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity and socio-economic class.