At the sunny reception on the top floor of the Southbank Centre to launch GAIN this week, I was frequently asked why I was there. Not as a prelude to being shown the door, you understand, but as interest in why a marketing and communications specialist should be at an event concerned with Boards and governance of arts organisations.
Gain (Governance, Access, Inclusion and Networking) aims to enrich arts, sports and heritage organisations in London through enabling disabled people and Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic individuals with the opportunity and skills to serve on the boards of arts or sports organisations in London. Participants – whether the future Board members or the host organisations – receive training in the skills and knowledge required to effectively serve as trustees. The scheme is managed by The Independent Theatre Council on behalf of Arts Council England, Museums Libraries and Archives, Sporting Equals, the Greater London Authority and Arts & Business.
So the answer to that challenge to me was obvious and easy: with so much pressure on marketers and artistic directors to seek out and satisfy ever more diverse audiences, how will those audiences feel confidence in those gestures unless they see themselves reflected also in the staff and governing structures of the organisation? Gestures towards diversity need to be more than just gestures; they need to be embodied in the ethos of the organisation itself.
If anyone is interested in finding new members for their Boards, or in becoming a Board member for a cultural organisation, get in touch with GAIN.