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Wanted: a new image

Outdated diversity policies create a ghetto from which black artists may never escape

By Sonya Dyer   October 2010

In 2003 the Arts Council England (ACE) launched Decibel, a multimillion pound scheme to celebrate cultural diversity in the arts and promote ethnic minority artists. Two years later it announced another positive-action scheme, Inspire—which gave aspiring ethnic minority curators a placement in a major arts institution at a total cost of around £400,000 a year.

I believe that the arts should be open to people of all backgrounds. But these schemes have not addressed the real issues of class, race, social disadvantage and educational attainment—they were merely ill thought-out, box-ticking exercises.

Ethnic minorities make up approximately 7.9 per cent of…

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