The Project

Widening Participation at Tate

Background

Tate’s mission is to promote public understanding and enjoyment of British, modern and contemporary art. They have 4 galleries, Tate Britain, Tate Modern, Tate Liverpool and Tate St Ives with approximately 1500 staff, 139,000 members, 70,000 artworks on display, and 8.5m visitors annually. Diversity and Inclusion is at the heart of Tate’s strategy, a core objective of which is for the organisation to continuously reach broad and more diverse audiences.

Issue to be resolved

Both the make-up of Tate’s workforce and audience/visitors do not reflect British society. There is a predominance of white, middle-class people, with people of colour and those from lower socioeconomic backgrounds significantly underrepresented. The organisation set out to change this with a long term strategy which has evolved in roughly three stages. 

What they did

Tate have developed their own case for diversity, complementing the legal, moral, and business case. Reaching broader and more diverse audiences is not only the right thing to do and a legal obligation, it also serves the organisation creatively as it allows it to draw from the widest talent pools and ensures its financial sustainability: traditional audiences draw from declining demographics and new audiences are by definition more diverse.  

From 2006 to 2010 Tate established ‘Tate for All its main platform for Equality and Diversity. This is a forum of employees drawn voluntarily from across Tate with focus mainly on workforce diversity. Like many organisations this stage was mainly characterised with awareness raising and building consensus for change.

In the ‘middle phase’ from 2010 – 2013, Tate developed its Diversity and Equality infrastructure further by introducing a specialist Diversity role, strengthening the links between diversity, organisational change and internal communications. Diversity Staff networks were established and relationships built with external partners such as Stonewall, Business in the Community and Business Disability Network. Many initiatives, often responding to an opportunity such as external funding others more strategically planned, characterise this period: traineeships, internships, volunteering schemes, families and young people’s programmes, school programmes, global and less Anglo-centric art purchases, a staff training programme in dignity and respect.

From 2015 – 2018 their focus has moved to embedding Diversity and Inclusion into decision making, improving accountability and transparency around diversity, increasing diverse voices and focusing on education and behaviour. A new strategy has been developed with staff together with a programme of Diversity Champions and Allies and an innovative programme of training on Unconscious Bias and Inclusive behaviours.

What was the outcome?

A significant milestone has been the opening of the new Tate Modern building in June 2016 with significantly more international and female artists represented in the spaces. At the time, Frances Morris, Tate Modern’s director said: very simply we made a commitment to rethinking our collection, how built it and the choices we make’ demonstrating how inclusion works in practice when choosing what art the museum chooses to show to the public. 

During this time Tate’s workforce remained highly engaged despite the difficult public sector financial landscape with significant increases in how staff felt engages with Tate’s vision and values. 

Tate twice achieved an entry in the Stonewall Top100 Equality Index.

In 2017, Tate marked 50 years from the partial decriminalisation of homosexuality with the seminal Queer British Art exhibition, which was conceived and championed by Tate’s LGBT+ staff network.

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