Ashley Smith-Hammond

It’s been a year since the government announced their new initiative to tackle racism. Where are we now?

In March 2016 the Scottish Government laid out the Race Equality Framework for Scotland 2016 – 2030. The framework was a culmination of the country’s work to make progress in providing race equality its citizens. At this stage, it is a framework that sets out the country’s approach, as opposed to a legally binding document.

What does it mean in practice for the country’s cultural organisations?

Racial equality

The Scottish Government wants to use the framework to make measurable progress on race equality, building on the legally-binding Equalities Act 2010, which affects all of the UK. Together with the Act, the Scottish framework is helping to strengthen and support the cause for diversity.

Compiled with support from the Coalition for Racial Equality and Rights (CRER), the framework aims to cater to the needs and experiences of Scotland’s ethnic minority communities.

Through engagement with grassroots community organisations, practitioners working in the public and third sectors, and citizens attending strategic action forums, the government sought to build a comprehensive picture of lived experiences.

Using the feedback gained, various goals have been set in place to help support ethnic minorities across the country in the following areas:

  • Issues of community cohesion and safety
  • Participation and representation
  • Education and lifelong learning
  • Employability, employment and income
  • Health and homes


What it means for your organisation

For cultural organisations, it’s an opportunity to shape your code of conduct and working practices. Having a diverse range of staff and performers supports a diversity of output. One of the potential outcomes of greater internal diversity is strengthening an organisation’s ability to attract and engage a diverse audience.

Consider those who aren’t currently represented at your cultural events. Why might you be finding particular types of audiences hard to reach? People are looking to see themselves, their communities, their issues and their stories represented in the work. If those stories are missing, you are likely missing those audiences.

Organisations need to take an honest and open look at themselves to see if there are any remaining barriers in place that might make potential audiences feel that the work is not for them. This unintentional message can keep people from participating in the arts. The onus is on established organisations to make the extra effort to reach out, draw people together and share opportunities equally.


Main image credit: ELREC stall with visitors by East Lothian Museums (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)