New Equitable Narratives for Art & Design Higher Education as CHEAD launches EDI Statements

February 27, 2024

Image Credit: UNESCO Aschberg Programme

Facing the social, economic, and political crisis through art & design

The biggest challenge leaders across art and design Higher Education (HE) face involves the age-old problem of how to continue to inspire equity, diversity, and inclusion action while a turbulent social, economic, and political landscape calls for immediate attention.

From the horrors in Gaza to the widening gender and race pay gap across all sectors, there is more than a cost-of-living crisis squeezing humanity to its apparent limits. However, if there is one thing art and design knows how to do: its rise to a crisis.

Celebrating UK arts and challenging art & design to rise to the crisis at the door

From Sonia Boyce to Vivienne Westwood, UK art and design has always asked the questions no other civil actor has been able to openly ask. Not always in the right way or with everyone in the room, but it has always answered the call coming from both inside and outside the house.

As we grapple with our individual and collective civil and moral responsibility for both hearing and answering the crisis at the door, it’s a reminder that we are more than the sum of our parts.

It’s the intrinsic power of art and design to drive humanity towards new equitable narratives and it’s why we truly believe that art is essential in both theory and practice. Take the Renaissance (the French one, don’t worry our Beyonce cultural renaissance blog is scheduled for another date), art sat at the core of much of the breakthroughs we still feel the impact of today.

Video Credit: Campaign for the Arts, House of Lords Debate.

Together with our friends across the sciences (what we now call STEM), the Renaissance saw a burst of new civil and moral action driven and set alight by the power of art to inspire and guide society to new narratives.

A power that as the year thaws from a turbulent and worryingly warm UK winter, the House of Lords, media, cross parliamentary groups, cultural advocates, and civil society understand and are ready to campaign for.

Presenting our EDI vision for how CHEAD will answer that call

Following my appointment Director of Equity, Diversity & Inclusion at CHEAD, my foremost priority was implementing a reflective practice that centred the voices of those not currently in the room while allowing those already in the room to embrace the power of art to drive social, economic, and political action.

Action that is centred on compassion and an understanding of the lived expertise and experience of communities who are often on the outside of the door, weathering one existential crisis after another. I am pleased to present our EDI vision in this new document that acts as a guiding star for how we and the art & design sector can answer the crisis at the door.

We hope that the time taken to ensure CHEAD evolves in a way that makes EDI a living value is clear to see in these statements. We share them with a renewed commitment to unlocking our sector’s full potential so that creative education sits at the centre of UK civic and moral answer to the EDI challenges ahead of us.

Share it far, share it wide and let’s prepare for UK art & design HE to be a guiding light for a burdened human race through our individual and collective practice.

“It is not intent, but rather impact, that drives meaningful change on a systemic and individual level.”

Sophie Amono, Director of Equity, Diversity & Inclusion


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