Diversity in the Creative Industries
Our company isn’t as diverse as it could be. There it is. We’ve said it. We’re not proud of it and it's something that we have been tackling and trying to combat for a while now. But it seems that we aren’t the only creative company to be having this issue. The creative industry is terrible for diversity. We’ve been looking into diversity in TV, Film and Animation and been thinking about how we can create a more ethnically diverse industry.
In September 2019, the UK Screen Alliance, Animation UK and Access VFX published a report about diversity and inclusion within the UK’s VFX, animation and post-production sectors. The report found that Black, Asian and Ethnic Minority individuals made up 19% of those working in VFX, 14% of people on animation, and 18% of those working in post-production. To put this into perspective across the UK it is believed that 14% of the working-age population is made up of Black, Asian and Ethnic Minority workers. So you may think that these figures are good, however, there are several issues.
Firstly when you look at the location bias of jobs within these three sectors the numbers paint a different picture. The UK Screen Alliance report also stated that 89% of jobs in animation, VFX and post productions are based in London and the South East. But in these areas, the percentage population of Black, Asian and Ethnic Minority individuals was around 40%. So there must be an issue here; if the population percentage is so high in this hub of creative companies, why is the figure of Black, Asian and Ethnic Minority individuals working in animation, VFX and post-production so low?
Figures have also suggested that despite these (in comparison to the overall population) percentages, the number of Black, Asian and Ethnic Minority individuals working in senior roles in this sector is overwhelmingly low. A report by Creative Diversity Network, which collected data from over 600,000 contributors working both on and off-screen for the big 5 TV channels (BBC, Channel 4, ITV, Channel 5/ViacomCBS and Sky), found that Black, Asian and Ethnic Minority individuals are underrepresented in many key senior roles. Roles such as Head of Productions (8.3% of individuals were Black, Asian and Ethnic Minority), Director (8.6%) and Writer (9.1%). Alongside this, the UK Screen Alliance report found that just 8% of senior roles in VFX, animation and post-production were made up of Black, Asian and Ethnic Minority individuals. In comparison, a report from Directors UK found that between 2013 and 2016 just 2.22% of UK Television programmes were made by Black, Asian and Ethnic Minority directors.
Finally, the number of Black, Asian and Ethnic Minority women in these sectors are also incredibly low. The UK Screen Alliance report found that overall, women of colour make up 8% of the VFX workforce, 8% of animation and 9% of post-production.
This isn’t just an issue that the TV industry is facing. A 2017 study of Hollywood films found that 9% of film roles were given to black actors. People of colour also only made up 1.3 out of 10 film directors and less than 1 out of 10 film writers were people of colour. When you compare this to the fact that just under 40% of America’s population is made up by Black, Asian and Ethnic Minority communities, we can see that there is still a long way to go before we will have a diverse cast and crew working in the American film industry.
Sir Lenny Henry has always been an advocate for increasing the number of Black, Asian and Ethnic Minority individuals in the TV industry. He has spoken twice at the Royal Television Society conference, the first occasion was in 2009 about how we need to improve diversity within TV, then he returned again in 2019 to talk again about how necessary it is to improve diversity within TV. Henry is particularly passionate about getting a wider Black, Asian and Ethnic Minority presence on TV channels like BBC, ITV and Channel 4. During his speech, he said: ‘Is it any wonder that UK television is falling behind? People are deserting us for Netflix and streaming services, especially diverse audiences.’ But he also stressed the importance of having a more diverse team working away behind the scenes. Calling upon an American survey, Henry states that ‘The study found that scripted dramas and comedies that employed more women and ethnic minority writers also did better both in terms of ratings and financial returns.’ Thus proving how important it is to reflect on the diversity within the TV industry.
But how do we go about making sure that there is more diversity? Well in 2018, the Film Diversity Action Group produced a set of proposals to enrich film culture, film employment and improve social mobility by increasing diversity. The proposal stated that ‘within six years, 15% of employment in each film production should be Black, Asian and Ethnic Minority,’ and then ‘in 12 years, the 15% figure should apply to each department producing the film.’ Sir Lenny Henry believes that one of the ways that we could increase the diversity within animation would be to ‘just scrap all these diversity schemes and initiatives and put some money where our mouth is. In fact, forget the mouth, let’s put our money where our Black, Asian and Ethnic Minority talent is.’ To explain this he calls upon previous examples where the TV industry have tried to improve their bias; ‘When Channel 4 and the BBC wanted to increase the programmes they make out of London, in other words, increase regional diversity, they did not launch a single diversity scheme or mentoring scheme. They put their money where their mouth is and commissioned programmes and productions out of London.’ If productions did this then we could easily reach the 15% within 6 years, and 15% within 12 years statistics.
But how does this affect small studios and organisations like us? Well, let’s face it, we are embarrassingly white as an organisation. We get very few applications from Black, Asian and Ethnic Minority people. We have decided to look deeper at why that is and focus on education and aspiration into the creative industries. In October 2019 Steve, Giggle’s creative director and founder, began mentoring a local young Black, Asian and Ethnic Minority individual who was interested in getting into the film industry. The programme was run by independent newspaper Bristol 24/7 and educational platform, Boomsatsuma. The 4 participants in the programme had 6 months to learn, plan and produce a short film about Bristol with the help and support of their mentor. This was a great chance for Steve to pass on some of the extensive knowledge that he has acquired over the last 20 years in the creative industries. The finished films were then premiered to a room of industry experts and influential people from Channel 4, BBC and other media organisations. In December 2019 we partnered up with Cephas Williams and his amazing campaign, ‘56 Black Men’. Cephas needed some help with graphics for his first large scale event and we were happy to support by sponsoring this element of the show. We have recently joined Creative Access an organisation that helps under-represented communities into the creative industries. We are constantly working to find new ways that we can encourage people into the creative industry which historically lacks diversity. This could be the stepping stone that helps to get more Black, Asian and Ethnic minority individuals into the creative industry.
As an organisation, we will endeavour to become more diverse and create more roles for Black, Asian and Ethnic Minority individuals within our company or provide help to get into other companies and organisations. And if other creative companies also do this then it may be possible to meet Film Diversity Action Groups proposal. If you would like to contact us about this, please email email@example.com