The Arts Council of England recently released several documents giving more information about the support they can provide and Easy Read versions of our How to Apply guidance. We got in touch with Ruth Kapadia, Relationship Manager for Diversity at ACE, South West, to find out more.
Hello Ruth! Can you tell us a little about yourself and your role at the Arts Council of England?
I’ve been working in the Arts Sector in the South West for over 20 years, starting out in the marketing department of a regional theatre, then into an Audience Development Agency (South West Arts Marketing for anyone who remembers them), and I’ve been the Relationship Manager for Diversity at the Arts Council here in the region for the last eight years.
It’s my role to ensure that our grant investment is spread as widely as possible. Some groups are under-represented in both the number of applicants received and grants awarded, so I run workshops to publicise the grants we offer, and talk to as many artists as possible from diverse backgrounds who want to put in an application, so their applications can be as strong as possible. I get to meet some really interesting people, and experience some truly great art here in the South West.
ACE’s Accessibility statement says that “We believe that art is universal in its appeal, and it should be made available to and enjoyed by, everyone, everywhere.” Can you tell us some of the ways in which you support the sector in becoming more accessible?
All National Portfolio Organisations (NPOs) have to produce an Equality Action plan which clearly explains how they will try to diversify their audiences and workforce. We also ask NPOs to contribute to the Creative Case for Diversity. We’ve all heard a moral case for diversity, and a legal case. At Arts Council we believe there is a creative case; that art is more interesting when people from a range of backgrounds come together and make new work. Organisations do this through programming diverse work and helping develop talent from diverse communities.
We offer access support funding for people writing applications to any of our funds. If you have a disability or condition that makes completing an application online difficult, then we pay for someone to help you. Applicants can also apply for access support funding to help in the delivery of a project – any equipment or assistance you require because of your condition.
We also ran two years of the Agents for Change project, when artists from diverse backgrounds worked within NPOs to reflect on how they might become more accessible. I think this is most evident in Bristol at Watershed with their emphasis on welcoming d/Deaf audiences, and the work Bristol Old Vic has done on diversifying the actors onstage.
The Arts Council of England have recently released new Easy Read guidance on Access Support, Project Grants and Developing your Creative Practice. Can you tell us more about these?
Arts Council guidance documents are very thorough, but that also makes them very long. I think the Project Grants guidance document runs to over 70 pages. The Easy Read versions give applicants the main questions to consider, without all of the extra references and links, so they are a much easier place to start if you aren’t familiar with our funding, or find complex documents confusing. Once you have read the Easy Read version you can then look at the full guidance documents for further details and tips on completing your application.
And where can individuals go if they have further questions?