2017 winners | Voluntary Arts
Winner – Board Diversity and Inclusivity
Who they are
Voluntary Arts provide a universal voice for the 63,000 voluntary arts groups involved in creative cultural activities around the UK and Republic of Ireland.
What they’ve achieved
To fulfil its role Voluntary Arts needs to connect with a diverse range of creative communities across the country. Yet, like many arts organisations, it became concerned by the lack of diversity of its trustees, staff and beneficiaries.
In 2015, the organisation invested in expert support, recruiting diverse volunteers and forming a Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) Advisory Panel. Voluntary Arts created specific plans for each of its regions and by July 2016 four members of the Panel had joined the board.
Voluntary Arts is able to clearly evidence diversity on its board – across different locations, skills, art forms and demographics. This approach is actively impacting on the way the organisation works and how it includes different voices.
The board has shown leadership by making a strategic decision to address diversity and following through on its mission. The judges felt that the charity’s success clearly represents a “quantum leap” – which has had a clear impact on the organisation.
Why they are a winner
The BAME Advisory Panel’s innovative approach to meetings, incorporating a shared meal, encourages full participation and engagement. The judges were struck by how unusual and unconventional this approach is, and how well it works for the charity.
There’s also a clear connection between this model and the organisation’s asset based approach to the arts, built on participants’ existing skills and activities. This demonstrates a clear strategic thread between the charity’s work and its governance.
Voluntary Arts is now in a position to use its experience to support other arts organisations to achieve more diverse boards. The fact that other organisations have shown an interest in replicating its model speaks volumes.