‘When I was a child I loved reading but I remember thinking “where are the stories about people like me?”’
Social diversity among creators, audiences and industry professionals is essential for building a strong creative economy and ensuring that the benefits of cultural participation are shared by all.
In order for these social and economic benefits to be spread throughout all social groups, it is imperative that the culture on offer reflects the diversity of our society and a plurality of stories is being told. If audiences feel that culture reflects and speaks to their own experience, they are more likely to engage and more readers will be created.
A survey conducted as part of Arts Council England’s report Literature in the 21st Century found that 73% of respondents felt that there was an issue with the representation of BAME voices in literary fiction. Similar concerns exist around class and regional representation. A 2018 study found that just 1% of British children’s books feature a main character who is black or minority ethnic. This must change so that literature truly reflects the make-up of the society we live in.
What Are We Asking For?
We must take steps to open the creative industries up more widely and welcome new entrants irrespective of class, race, nationality, age, gender, disability or sexual orientation. Innovation depends on fresh ideas, and to ignore currently under-represented groups is a waste of talent and potential.
You can get involved on Twitter using the hashtag #WeNeedDiverseBooks.
Find Out More
SoA calls for greater recognition of social impact of art and culture (2 July 2018)
Scale of Gender Inequality in UK Screenwriting Exposed (24 May 2018)
SoA responds to Arts Council England’s ‘conversation’ (6 April 2018)