Recording: Public Forum – Addressing inequalities and under-representation in the Region’s sector

In 2021/22 CVAN East Midlands participated in a period of consultation and led activity aimed at addressing inequalities and under-representation in the Region’s sector, delivered with Art Fund support. The intention was for the project to positively impact on public programmes and commissioning in the East Midlands. Activity including LGBTQIA+ Awareness Training with Curious Arts; work with focus groups and expert facilitators; the development of a toolkit combining accessibility with creativity written by Benjamin Rostance and Jo Tolley; and a network audit with Earthen Lamp.

This public forum was an opportunity to engage organisations, artists and arts workers with project activity and provide a platform to test and discuss ideas. We were joined by Dr. Vishalakshi Roy, Director of Earthen Lamp and East Midlands-based creatives Jo Tolley and Benjamin Rostance. Thank you to everyone who attended and contributed to the session!

Benjamin Rostance and Jo Tolley spoke about A Brief Guide to Combining Accessibility with Creativity, a toolkit which aims to provide action-based and meaningful recommendations that open dialogue between arts and culture organisations and the spaces they occupy within the communities that they serve. Click here to download the full toolkit.

Vishalakshi Roy spoke about the network audit that Earthen Lamp delivered for CVAN EM to understand the gaps in addressing diversity and representation in the visual arts sector in the East Midlands. Earthen Lamp’s report presents the empirical findings and recommendations on the next steps. CVAN EM Steering Group members and organisations from across the region were consulted. Click here to download the full report.

Bios: Benjamin Rostance (he/him) is a working- class artist, born and based in the East Midlands. Through his work, Ben documents and shares snapshots of his lived experience of childhood trauma, unpredictable mental health, and his experience of growing up in a large, poor working-class family. Ben draws heavily on his 16 years’ experience of working in the health and social care sector to inform attitudes towards positive ways of coping with trauma. Ben has exhibited across his hometown of Nottingham and was selected for New Contemporaries 2021.

Jo Tolley (she/her) believes in the vibrant, unstoppable force attributed to finding your own lane. An energetic writer, artist, and facilitator with lived experience of Cerebral Palsy, Jo is an all-round advocate for disability integration. Jo is passionate about ensuring accessible arts opportunities for all and offering an alternative perspective to breaking down barriers within society. Jo strives to create a new trajectory for disabled communities by championing equity and diversity, promoting self-acceptance as the key to positively influencing how disability is portrayed and understood.

Vishalakshi is Director of research-led strategic consultancy Earthen Lamp, and Assistant Professor in the Centre for Cultural and Media Policy Studies at the University of Warwick. For 20 years she has led research and evaluation activities primarily across creative, cultural and heritage sectors, delivering over 300 projects including the development of the bid for Coventry’s City of Culture 2021. Vishalakshi began her career in India and was senior manager at audience development agency Audiences Central, before completing a PhD from Warwick Business School.

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Illustration by Freyja Perkins.