This week I’ve been pondering about diversity. Particularly I’ve been pondering about the people and organisations who passionately pursue it as a measure of their success, and those who, by their communications and systems (sometimes without thinking), prevent it.
Last night I attended an information session for a tremendous organisation sharing a fantastic opportunity to travel overseas to stretch limitations and knowledge and grow potential.
We heard from a brilliant food scientist who had received a fellowship and she had grown tremendously from the experience…
The other presentations were somewhat trickier if you ask how they were encouraging diversity.
We were told the decisions would be made by a panel of ‘wise men’, we were told that you needed to self fund lost wages- (ie tough luck if you were working class and lived hand to mouth) and in a jaw dropping turn of phrase, one recent fellow described Indigenous instruments and music as ‘ethnographic’ as if somehow we didn’t embody a living, breathing, evolving, contemporary culture.
And I don’t think The Churchill Trust even realised it, but it’s these cues that help say ‘if I’m not like you I don’t belong here, and there’s no point going through the process and getting my hopes up if I don’t’
Throughout my career I’ve been attracted to projects and organisations who were interested in ‘levelling the playing field’. I think it’s probably part of the makeup of a human who hasn’t always had a comfortable life.
Some of my most satisfying moments have been when I’m working in a place that furthers this. Like setting up Platform Youth Theatre with the first youth governed board of its time in Australia. Or leading ArtStart for the Ozco, and being able to make a strategic difference in the lives of over 1,000 artists at a time that can often make it or break it, particularly for those who don’t have family money to draw on.
I’m working with a client at the moment whose awareness of the barriers to access, both for regionally based artists, and those outside of traditional establishments, is keen and nuanced. They are humble, empathetic and very accomplished.
You know, sometimes it’s just a slight shift of thinking, an opening up to the thought that diversity is an asset, not a box to tick and the best stories are found in places you least expect them…
Picture- street art Hobart, artist unknown
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