Posted on December 7, 2005

Minority Curator Shortage Tackled

BBC News, Dec. 7, 2005

A new initiative aimed at tackling the shortage of ethnic minority curators in London’s major museums has launched two-year placements for five people.

The Inspire scheme is fully funding the trainee placements at the British Museum, National Gallery, National Portrait Gallery, the Tate and the V&A.

Less than 6% of London curators are from ethnic minorities, compared with 29% of the city’s population.

Six more Inspire “Fellows” will begin placements at other museums next year.

These will be at the Barbican Gallery, the British Council, the Hayward Gallery, the ICA, the Serpentine Gallery and the Whitechapel Art Gallery.

Culture Minister David Lammy said: “The cultural sector, once again, is taking a lead in a society-wide issue — London is recognised as the ultimate cosmopolitan city and yet our institutions simply don’t reflect this.

“As the programme develops we hope to stimulate further debate as to how we can bring new insights into our collections and more diverse audiences into our museums.”

The first five Fellows were chosen from more than 150 applicants.

They are due to undergo rigorous training at their institutions and at Arts Council England, and eventually deliver a major project at the museums.

The placements are jointly funded by Arts Council England, the independent grant making Esmee Fairbairn Foundation, and the museums themselves.

Tate director Sir Nicholas Serota said: “This initiative is something we regard as a high priority for Tate.

“Along with the other national museums we are very aware of the absence of black and ethnic minority curators in our team, at a time when we are trying to widen the range of our programmes and audiences.

He added: “Museums can take a lead in influencing perceptions of what it means to live in a plural Britain at the beginning of the 21st Century.”