Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Arts Council grants ask about sexuality

From Dalya Alberge in The Times:
Theatreland will have to give up its bedroom secrets in the quest for funding, under new Arts Council requirements. Organisations applying for grants are being asked to state how many board members are bisexual, homosexual, heterosexual, lesbian or whose inclinations are “not known”.

Audrey Roy, the director of grants, said that the council needed to understand who its audience was and to whom its funding was going. “We see diversity as broader than race, ethnicity, faith and disability,” she said. Question 22 of the Grants for the Arts forms, relating to sexual orientation, was not compulsory, she added, although the form states that it must be answered.
Meanwhile, in The Guardian , Mark Ravenhill wonders whether the focus on sexuality, race and disability means that the biggest diversity issue is being overlooked.
A few days ago, I introduced the subject of diversity into a dinner party conversation. "Let's be honest, darling," a friend said. "There isn't any particular issue to do with diversity in the arts, other than the age-old problem of class. As long as you're from a middle-class background, you're fine."

Wine and privacy had loosened her tongue - I suspect it's not a view that many people would align themselves with publicly. But I realised that I almost entirely agreed with her.

1 comment:

  1. I was horrified to discover in my recent ACE grant application that it mattered who I went to bed with as to whether I got a grant or not. After spending over a year working with the Arts Council on a grant application for my new musical play POSSESSED, about the Pre-Raphaelite icon Jane Morris I was turned down just before Christmas. I was told that I had fulfilled all criteria but when I asked why it had then been turned down I was told that it was not competitive enough. When I asked how to make it more competitive I was told by my officer that she did not know. I could not help feeling that the fact that the composer and I were white, middle class heterosexuals writing about the Pre-Raphaelites had a lot to do with it. These were things we could not and would not change in order to get a grant.
    If all new writing is controlled by the Arts Council in this way it will mean that there will be no new work by people like us or about anything more intellectual than race or class.


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