a busy abstract painting that has lots of lines and circles and lots of different colours depicting 'my life in london' by Thompson Hall and Ian Wornast
Thompson Hall & Ian Wornast - My Life in London

Tracking intersectionality in Unlimited applications

After our latest round of applications closed for our upcoming commissions, we published an article detailing the make-up of those who applied, based on the data gathered in our Equal Opportunity Monitoring forms. Now, Harry has analysed that data with intersectionality in mind, so we can get a clearer picture of the barriers disabled artists face.

Earlier in the year, following impetus from Unlimited commissioned artist Tarik Elmoutawakil,  co-director of Marlborough Productions,  we began to think about how we could track intersectionality within our Equal Opportunity Monitoring. When we talk about intersectionality here, we’re referring to the multiple barriers that people may face. Our previous form was based on the criteria that Arts Council England ask us to monitor, which is similar to that required by our other funders such as Arts Council Wales and Creative Scotland.

We’ve now developed a new form, and we’re still asking those questions, but we’ve added a set of new questions. Using both sets, we’re able to understand in much better detail what kind of barriers applicants face. This new form has now had its first outing, on the Expressions of Interest for our latest round of commissions, which closed at the end of October. To be clear, all the data captured is anonymised. 

“The results show us that the majority of applicants (56%) face four or more barriers.”

What additional barriers do we want to ask about?

Initially, we came up with a set of additional questions we wanted to ask. This was presented to all our funders and key stakeholders in June and we developed it further based on feedback from those partners. Here are the criteria we settled on monitoring, with the new criteria in bold:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Ethnicity
  • Sexuality
  • Class
  • Transgender identity
  • Precarious employment
  • Experience of homelessness
  • Experience of the criminal justice system
  • Are or have been a refugee or asylum seeker
  • Experienced barriers due to country of origin. 

Method and Results

For the purposes of analysing the data we’ve got, we consider each of these criteria to represent a potential barrier. It’s not an exact science, and the criteria aren’t weighted in any way, but it gives us an idea of the number of different barriers applicants face. Given that everyone applying is disabled, we know that they will face at least one barrier. 

Number of barriers faced Number of Applicants Percentage of Applicants
0 1 0.2%
1 23 4.9%
2 70 14.9%
3 113 24.1%
4 87 18.6%
5 75 16.0%
6 57 12.2%
7 31 6.6%
8 6 1.3%
9 5 1.1%
10 1 0.2%
Total 469

The results show us that the majority of applicants (56%) face four or more barriers, while only 20% of applicants face two barriers or less. The most common number of barriers experienced is three (24%). Someone who experiences three barriers for example, might be disabled, experience homophobia, and have an experience of homelessness. Someone else, who experiences four barriers, might be disabled, working class, precariously employed, and experience racism. Our old form wouldn’t have captured that someone has experienced homelessness, or that they are precariously employed, for example, but these are real barriers to applying for arts funding. 

What additional barriers did applicants mention? 

In addition to the new criteria, we added a field for applicants to describe any other barriers they experience. This gives us useful feedback for how to develop this form in the future, and capture other barriers that we may be missing at the moment. Some people mentioned facing barriers from being a single parent, having multiple disabilities, relating to size prejudice or having care commitments. These, among others, are things to consider as we develop this form.   

The Expression of Interest is the first stage of our two stage application process. We plan to look at how this data changes in our second stage (for shortlisted applicants) as well after final selections have been made, to find out if applicants who face more barriers are disadvantaged in Unlimited’s processes. If they are, then we’ve got more work to do.