Roots - a joint BBC / Arts Council England initiative
26 January 2004
an event to raise awareness of a joint BBC and Arts Council England
initiative called Roots
Pat and thanks to all of you for making time to be here.
a ground-breaking partnership between the BBC and Arts Council England
that's making a real difference to the way we look and sound on the
kind of project I like. A group of people have a good idea. They get
on with it and do it.
Regions and the New Audiences team at Arts Council England, shared a
goal. To make good programmes that bring culturally diverse arts to
a wider audience. So together they created Roots.
eleven co-ordinators funded by the partnership working in communities
across the country with the aim of bringing talented artists from minority
ethnic backgrounds to a wider audience.
BBC Local Radio stations they specialise in building relationships,
producing events, and setting up features and programmes that bring
new talent into mainstream BBC Local Radio shows, Regional TV programmes
and onto our online services through the Where I live websites.
you an example. In North Devon, at a place called Filleigh, which is
one of the most rurally isolated communities in England, the WI have
been learning to sing in Shona. That's a Zimbabwean language.
who taught them lives locally though he grew up in rural Zimbabwe. His
name's Chartwell and because of Roots he's been able to work with groups
like the WI creating stories and songs about the countryside and the
environment using traditional African instruments and rhythms.
sound like a small thing to you in multicultural London, but it had
quite an impact in somewhere like Devon. The story was broadcast in
April on Spotlight, our Regional News programme in the South West.
is what's so exciting about Roots. It breaks down all sorts of stereotypes
and assumptions about what our audiences are all about, and what they're
going to find interesting and entertaining.
about more than simply what appears on our screens - it is life changing.
In a bit you'll hear from Yasmin Razaq - who'll tell us how some of
her work has been changing the lives of school children in Liverpool
our co-ordinator in the North West based at Radio Merseyside.
History month in October, she did a piece of work linking children in
year three with a digital artist who got them thinking about their ancestry
and then helped them create their self portraits.
were exhibited at the Museum of Liverpool life. Imagine yourself at
eight or nine, walking into big building like that and seeing your picture
up on the walls, with people stopping to look at your work, your face.
Incidentally the exhibition was so successful the museum had to extend
the show for an extra month.
generated hundreds of these moments, and all of them have been captured
in BBC local and Regional programmes.
In a less
than a year the eleven co-ordinators have created 82 hours of radio
in mainstream day time programmes. And sixty seven features on our regional
no mean feat considering these guys have each got two bosses... one
in the Arts Council and one at the radio station... and you can imagine
what that's like!
that this project has come to fruition in such a strong and positive
way - demonstrating partnership at its best.
outline our proposals for the future of the BBC partnerships will be
very much central to how we see our future role in this society.
of my first speeches as Director-General I made it clear that BBC output
needed to better reflect the richness and diversity of the UK as a whole,
and embrace talent from all the communities and cultures of the UK.
this is optional if the BBC is to remain relevant to its audience -
particularly the young for whom an easy multi-culturalism is second
that the best way to change the outlook and output of the BBC was to
make the BBC itself a more diverse organisation.
after I took over as Director-General we set some new employment targets
which were central business objectives which were one of the measures
the success of directors and managers would be judged on.
to increase staff from ethnic minority backgrounds from under 8 per
cent in 2000, to 10 per cent by the end of last year.
pledged to double the number of senior managers from ethnic minorities
from a pathetic 2 per cent to 4 per cent.
these targets we've made big efforts across the BBC - there's been a
quite significant culture shift - and I'm pleased to announce that we've
hit the targets - just!
end of last year 10.02 per cent of our workforce were ethnic minorities
and 4.38 per cent of senior management.
convinced that it was only by setting targets and regularly monitoring
our progress towards them at the BBC Executive Committee - and by regular
I mean every three months - that we were able to meet them.
made a real difference. We are now employing nearly 650 more people
from ethnic minorities today than when we set the targets four years
the way these people are not in security or catering as these are outsourced
at the BBC.
commitments to diversity don't, in my experience, actually change much
in large organisations. You only do that by real figures and regular
made a start but, having met these targets, we want to keep the momentum
up and experience has taught me that the only way to do this is to set
not completely straightforward. A large proportion of our staff are
based in London and London has a far higher proportion of people from
ethnic minority backgrounds than the rest of the UK.
we aim to set a target which mirrors the population of London or the
position in the UK as a whole which collectively pays for and uses our
If we chase
the latter we'd stop now. However the media draws people from rights
across Britain to work in London so trying to replicate the London figures
would also be a mistake.
decided to set new targets above the national average, but below London's
ethnic minority population.
is that by the end of 2007 - another four year period - 12.5 per cent
of all our staff and 7 per cent of our senior managerial staff should
be from an ethnic minority community. We feel that this is an appropriate
the BBC, Roots is part of a bigger picture which reflects our commitment
to make our organisation and our output more diverse with an array of
talent from every community both on and off air.
to all of you who have been involved in the Roots initiative - not only
are you bringing an array of art to a wider audience, you're helping
to change the BBC for the better.