Using data to drive change – how we’re responding to the FREA Racial Justice Audit

Published: 27 October 2022 
Author: Ushi Bagga, Nina White 
Group of young performers in brightly coloured outfits from Jukebox Collective. Image: Jukebox Collective. Photo by Katja Mayer
Jukebox Collective. Photo credit: Katja Mayer

Ushi Bagga, Head of Programme – Arts, and Nina White, Data and Information Officer, reflect on the results of our latest racial justice audit.

When we published the results of our first racial justice audit in November 2021, the findings confirmed much of what we already knew: that there was a real disparity in funding awarded to Black and minoritised communities and organisations. The first auditing process, while informative and challenging, was ultimately a precursor to more concrete actions that we recognised we needed to take – and still need to take – as a funder.

As we consider the results of our latest audit for 2021/22, we are able to see some of the positive changes that actions have made to the proportion of our funding awarded to Black and minoritised communities, organisations and projects. At the same time, the data highlights specific barriers and imbalances that persist in areas of our funding which we will need to understand better and address.

Seeing the change: Spotlight on the Arts Access and Participation Fund

Over the past two years, we have made a number of changes to our Arts Access and Participation Fund, introducing greater flexibility to what we’re able to fund including core funding, and offering calls for those thinking about applying. Our approach to the calls is underpinned by positive action (which we explain more about in this blog), prioritising conversations with organisations that are led by people experiencing inequity.

We are pleased to see that – perhaps as a direct result of these changes – there is a considerable increase in the proportion of funding awarded to projects by and for Black and minoritised communities, which effectively tripled between 2020/21 and 2021/22. These projects and organisations are working in different and exciting ways to help improve how people can access and participate in the arts. Some recent examples include:

  • Museum of Colour is a heritage and creativity social enterprise which is building a digital museum to explore the contribution made by People of Colour to the nation’s film, television and art. Through our funding, Museum of Colour have created a collaborative exhibition of objects from the Bodleian Library Oxford related to empire and slavery that explore how they are viewed in the twenty-first Century.
  • Jukebox Collective is a youth-led collective based in Cardiff, committed to providing platforms for underrepresented creatives and building opportunities for young people across Wales to become professional artists. Rooted in street and youth cultures, the Collective plays a vital role in shaping how Black and minoritised culture is represented within the Welsh cultural sector.

Looking ahead, we continue to consider how we can do things differently to address historic underfunding and enact the shift in power that we know is needed. This will include how we might do more on granting’ to extend the reach of our funding.

We have begun to explore this way of funding through a grant made to Amal, to support the work they do to increase arts opportunities for Muslim communities. Amal will use part of their funding to on-grant’ by giving smaller grants to community groups in Bradford and Birmingham who want to deliver co-created projects.

We are also developing ways which people with lived experienced of the issues that we want to fund are made part of Foundation’s assessment processes.

We will continue to monitor and reflect on grant-making data, seeking to address any areas of inequity and build on these small but important shifts.

PHF and the wider sector

Paul Hamlyn Foundation is one of the partners working with the Funders for Race Equality Alliance (FREA) to drive change to funder practice and transform the picture of UK racial justice grant-making. We are using the FREA audit tool to track our progress, which forms part of our DEI three-year action plan.

We were pleased to see our grants analysed alongside our peers in FREA’s recent audit results for 2022, to show greater diversity of practice across the wider funding sector – 46% of the projects audited went on projects to benefit communities with experience of racial injustice.

We hope more funders will take part in the audit in the years ahead, helping us all get a better understanding of how the sector as a whole is performing and ultimately giving us data to help drive change.

We welcome feedback on our plan and progress, and on this report. You can get in touch with us at or complete this anonymous survey.

Head of Programme – Individuals
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Data and Information Officer