To achieve true diversity the arts sector needs to move away from closed circles of people with the same background and embrace difference. Ashokkumar Mistry argues this is what makes diversity more than just an aspiration.
I often ask myself why, twenty-five years after entering the arts, diversity is still an aspiration and not a given. If the arts are so liberal, why is it still not intrinsically diverse? By intrinsically diverse, I refer to a breadth of people from different backgrounds not the same few people tagged on to situations as token gestures. What I want to do is to tackle why, ‘diverse’ (other than the mainstream) artists are still seen as a homogenous lump represented by the same few faces in the mainstream.
Many people deride diversity and baulk as soon as the word is said. The mere utterance of the word induces the response “here we go again”. Not having felt the cold stare of discrimination it’s difficult to explain to these people how it feels to be sidelined for no reason other than ‘fit’. For those who don’t understand the need for diversity, there has been a clear path through the world enabled by unseen privilege. And besides, if there are so few disabled or people of colour in the arts, it must mean that there is something wrong with them. Right?
Art is very subjective and what should and shouldn’t be shown in arts centres or funded is an extremely difficult call to make. We often make decisions around quality or worthiness when what we are actually doing is... Keep reading on Disability Arts Online.