Featured image: International Curators Forum, Beyond the Frame Masterclass, 2017
In 2010 it was reported that the proportion of workers from minority-ethnic backgrounds in the UK museum sector had increased threefold from 2.5% in 1993 to about 7% in 2006-2008, varying between 1.3% and 10.4% depending on museum and job role. Research from 2018 estimates that there are only 2.7% workers from minority-ethnic backgrounds in UK museums, galleries and libraries. Even according to the most optimistic estimates, only a tiny proportion of curators are Black or from racialised communities, even after many years of diversity schemes.
By comparison, initiatives in the US, such as those by Getty, Paul Mellon, and the Association of Art Museum Curators, are well established and better funded. The Mellon Undergraduate Curatorial Fellowship programme, for example, receives $3,250,000. There are still issues in the US, however: in 2015, 84% of US curators, educators, conservators and those in “museum leadership” roles were White. But progress is being made. In a subsequent survey in 2018 the percentage of POC in these roles increased from 26% to 35.
Today Artfund launches its Curatorial Diversity Report – written by Culture& and Museum X, which sets out the priorities for funders, museums, and arts organisations to meaningfully increase ethnic and cultural diversity in the sector.