Progress on tackling structural racism and inequality

Friday, 04 June 2021

12 months ago, we published a pledge in the context of the Black Lives Matter protests following the murder of George Floyd. Like many arts organisations in the UK, we acknowledged then that we wanted to take steps to tackle structural racism in our own organisation and to embody greater equality, diversity and inclusion in all aspects of who we are and the work that we do.

Last summer we appointed David Bryan to work with us on this process. David has held key roles in the voluntary and public sectors for over 30 years and has been involved in anti-racist work throughout his career. His work with us continues and encompasses change management, a wide-ranging organisational review and leadership training; all centered around achieving greater equality and diversity. 

David has conducted confidential individual consultations with all staff and is attending board meetings.  In response to these consultations, David has supported us to identify and start to implement the changes we need to make.  His work has included reviewing:

  • our mission, values and practices in working with artists, partners and local communities
  • board and staff recruitment policies and practices
  • policies and practices around fundraising and development


So far, we have focussed on tackling structural racism in a holistic way across the organisation and our practice, in a process that has involved our full team and board.


  • We have created space for an organisation-wide discussion of diversity and inclusion within the mission, values and overall direction of Create. We have established working groups to develop new Codes of Practice for our work with artists and local communities that will help shape and steer the next phase of the organisation. These will guide us in ensuring better representation in decision-making, project initiation, evaluation, communication and in our approaches to working within diverse communities. 
  • Just as we are committed to working with artists from a diverse range of backgrounds in terms of race and ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, complex needs and socio-economic backgrounds, we are working to reshape our team and our board to reflect more closely the demographics and lived experience of the diverse communities we work with.
  • We are building on our investment in staff development and have made progress on recruitment in the last year. By the end of 2023, we aim to meet these targets:  50% of our team – including the senior team – to be people from Black, Asian or minoritised backgrounds. Building on this, we are developing targets around intersectionality to include the representation of people with a disability, impairment or long-term illness and for those from lower socio-economic backgrounds.  
  • We have grown our team over the past year and moved a number of staff members from freelance to salaried contracts to ensure greater job security. 
  • We have developed a new fundraising policy that will help us structure decision-making on project and organisational funding.
  • We have enhanced our induction process and introduced a buddy system to better support new members of our team.
  • We have implemented additional management training for all those with line-management responsibilities.
  • We have appointed Thanh Sinden and Helen Ball to train our team in designing evaluation processes for our programme in Dagenham; this will give us new tools to help us strengthen the way we evaluate our work as a whole.
  • We have begun a process of board renewal aimed at achieving better representation.  We are in the process of recruiting a new Chair and have two additional board places available, with a further two becoming vacant over this calendar year. We identified the need for human rights, local community, media and arts sector expertise and we have started the process of recruiting new trustees who will also bring greater cultural and racial diversity to the board.  Our aim is for our board to have 40% representation from Black, Asian or minoritised backgrounds by the end of this calendar year and 50% by 2023. 


Over the past year, our curatorial team have focussed the delivery of our programme around achieving greater diversity and inclusion. 

  • Programmes in Hackney, Brent and Barking and Dagenham have focussed on commissioning artists from diverse backgrounds and have set out to bring increased diversity in the public realm and in the process of re-interpreting local community histories. 
  • Whilst we have always worked with local partners, we are placing increased focus on creating opportunities for, and collaborations with, local organisations in Hackney and in Barking and Dagenham.


  • We are committed to building on this renewed way of working, and our progress will be incorporated into our annual reporting on an ongoing basis.
  • We will build on our current efforts to develop our board and leadership team to achieve greater diversity. 
  • We will take the opportunity to underline our commitment in our new five-year plan that we will develop this autumn, with a renewed leadership team and Board.

This work is not finished and is not intended to be a quick fix.  Our endeavour is to make the organisation the best it can be – more reflective of the diversity of London and for our work to embody a commitment to those who are marginalised and do not have a voice. 

There have been and will continue to be, difficult conversations for us to have and decisions for us to take. There is much more for us to learn, but we are committed to this process and we know it will lead us towards becoming a better and stronger organisation.