UK Culture Minister Ed Vaizey has called for orchestras to more fully reflect the diversity of the British community. Speaking at the closing of the Association of British Orchestras conference in Birmingham, he said “British Orchestras must make ‘a real step change’ to allow a wider diversity of backgrounds into their ranks” The Guardian reports. While acknowledging the challenges involved Vaizey believes diverse talent can be found. He argues this isn’t political correctness, but ‘essential’, and that not enough is being done to impose clear targets on diversity in music. This statement came days after a similar call to British parliamentarians by British actor and Luther star Idris Elba who called for more diversity on British television. The Culture Secretary’s comments were endorsed by Sir Charles Allen, owner and Chair of radio station Classic FM, in their report on the story.
Vaizey identifies the In Harmony Project, which teaches classical music to children, and is being rolled out in various UK locations, as an example of what can be done.
Meanwhile in Australia a recent story in The Conversation carried the title Australia’s arts community has a big diversity problem – that’s our loss, and notes that a 2009 survey of professional artists found only 8 percent were from a non-English speaking background, half the rate of our population. This is hardly reflective of our broader community. Let’s hope things have changed since then.