The UK Government arts and heritage support package announced in July must be used to build a radical, new, more inclusive arts sector. Wales Millennium Centre takes its own share of that responsibility very seriously.
Following on from the Diversity Statement we published in July, we've created a Diversity Action Plan to make Wales Millennium Centre, its activities and staff more inclusive. Below we have published the key elements of our plan.
Diversity to us, in this context, means democratising who we are and what we do. Our plan refers to people ‘from diverse backgrounds’, by which we primarily mean Black, Asian and ethnically diverse as well as people with disabilities, protected characteristics or who are from low-income backgrounds.
We have used the terminology ‘Black, Asian and ethnically diverse’ here. Acronyms are too reductive, and after listening carefully to the ongoing national debate around language and race – and to our own colleagues - we will use this phrase for now.
We will continue to listen to the national debate, to find language that is inclusive and accurate. We acknowledge and thank the many groups and individuals who have shared their own experiences and perspectives which have informed our approach.
Building the Foundations
We will invest in training and educating staff and stakeholders on the power and privilege that is embedded in the existing organisation. We guarantee that all staff, managers, Senior Leadership Team and board members will have regular anti-racism and unconscious bias training from trainers with lived experiences.
Diversity and inclusion will become key strands of our performance review system so that they are present in all aspects of the work staff undertake.
We will review the recruitment process for board members because governance is key to moving this work forward, and we will ensure that we diversify our organisation at the highest level.
We’ll engage more meaningfully with Black, Asian and ethnically diverse people who have found it difficult to work with us or within the sector.
We recognise and endorse Race Alliance Wales’ 10-step Manifesto for an Anti-Racist Wales; an invaluable roadmap for organisations like ours.
All of this work will be supported by more effective data capture so we can be transparent about who we are working with and address issues of diversity.
Giving everyone a voice
We want to open up opportunities for talented people from diverse backgrounds, nurturing creativity and providing opportunities for development and employment.
We will democratise our systems and processes to provide space for more voices. This starts with acknowledging, listening to and learning from the experience of colleagues with lived experience of discrimination and of racism.
We will provide more space for people to use us as a resource to host activity, showcase their work and feel at home. We will use participatory budgeting and co-construction as a way of helping us to develop this work with diverse communities and individuals.
We also want to widen the level of engagement between us and our local communities. We’ll do this by promoting opportunities for employees to volunteer at events to build relationships, start conversations and provide informal platforms for learning and sharing.
We will break down misconceptions by inviting our employees to hear about lived experiences of people with disabilities (both visual and non-visual), and work with partner organisations with awareness events.
And we will continue to offer training such as British Sign Language (BSL) courses to our staff teams and gain support from partners at Deaf Hub Wales and Taking Flight. This will ensure we embed this learning, including negotiating with producers to improve access where we see gaps in provision.
We will ensure feedback is collected and heard at the highest level of the organisation, so that positive change can be implemented and that the voices of everyone who engages with us are included. We are creating a diverse Youth Council to embed these voices in decision-making in the wider organisation.
We will make and programme work that is diverse and inclusive in its themes, in its creation and in its presentation. We will review our work to date with artists and audiences with lived experience, analyse existing assumptions, barriers to engagement and agree future areas to prioritise.
We will further build relationships and partnerships with organisations to connect with more diverse groups of young people and ensure that the artists and creative practitioners who collaborate on our programmes are from diverse backgrounds. We will publish our proposed programmes of work annually.
Making it Work
We know that terms and conditions of employment and the workplace environment are vital in combatting systemic inequalities.
We have introduced the Real Living Wage rate for our staff and are working with Citizens Cymru Wales towards becoming an accredited Living Wage employer. We will give priority to contractors who pay the Real Living Wage.
We will invest in improving our recruitment practices and systems. We will make information about vacancies more widely available as well as introducing name-and-address-blind CVs to our recruitment process.
Our HR team will use positive action to ensure a Black, Asian and ethnically diverse range of candidates are represented at shortlist stage and provide pre-application training for under-represented groups who want to apply and join us.
We will review our activity – from application process to marketing material – to ensure it is accessible. This will include taking advice from partners on best practice, improving the experiences for disabled people visiting our venue and upskilling our staff to improve awareness and ways of working.
This will include a focus on how to remove barriers to participation, supporting aspirations to work at Wales Millennium Centre or in the wider sector, which they may have perceived as inaccessible.
As real work experiences are valuable opportunities, we will offer paid internships for Black, Asian and ethnically diverse individuals to work across our organisation.
We will continue the technical apprenticeship programme already established with Cardiff and Vale College and develop the junior creative apprenticeship we have recently piloted with a renewed focus on students from diverse backgrounds.
Working with local community leaders, we will incubate a skills exchange and start-up space in which local young people can build their own capabilities in business skills.
We will engage in peer-to-peer mentoring and hire local people to work alongside them, while calling on organisations such as Bectu, The Prince's Trust and the Wales Co-operative Centre to contribute.
We are creating a health and wellbeing framework, supported by Public Health Wales, as an organisational priority. This also includes building partnerships with organisations such as Stonewall Cymru and Diverse Cymru to ensure a supportive workplace for all our employees.
We will develop an employee charter promoting our responsibilities as staff members on diversity and inclusion, engagement and health and wellbeing and establish diversity champions for each department.
This will help to build diversity networks, encourage discussion and provide a safe space to challenge organisational practices and systems.
We continue to be a Disability Confident employer and follows the framework to ensure we are being assessed for our practices.
We will take action to create an inclusive workplace. We will commit to finding out how we can do better and embed a culture where diversity and inclusion is reflected throughout our organisation and in the behaviours we see.
There are some things in this plan that we know we can achieve quickly. We have made progress in some aspects of our work in recent years, especially in relation to the diversity and accessibility of our programming in the Weston Studio and our cabaret venue, Ffresh.
But, to achieve the aims of this plan fully we recognise that we will need to do careful, longer-term work. We are determined to do this, to improve the diversity of all our work and our staff.