Arts Council England to pressure groups on access to data on sexual orientation

Arts groups will be told to release information about the sexuality of their employees or they could be denied funding.

The Royal Shakespeare Company and the English National Ballet are among the institutions being put under pressure from Arts Council England (ACE) to increase the number of LGBT employees.

Data protection campaigners have hit out at the organisation for demanding access to sensitive or ‘special category’ information, branding the move “unacceptable”.


ACE controls a publicly-funded pot of almost £1.5 billion, which it distributes to organisations as long as they meet its ‘diversity quotas’.

In its most recent survey of arts groups, employees’ sexuality was ‘unknown’ in 58 per cent of cases, with 9 per cent ‘preferring not to say’.

advised by LGBT lobby group Stonewall

ACE responded to the lack of data by saying: “In future, we will put pressure on organisations which consistently report high levels of ‘unknown’ data, reminding them of their obligations under their funding agreements.”

While it says there is “no legal obligation” for groups to share the data, it has been advised by LGBT lobby group Stonewall that sharing such data is “best practice”.

Not required

A spokesman for campaign group Privacy International said: “It is unacceptable to pressure employees to provide such personal and private information.

“Staff should be clearly told that providing information about their sexual orientation is not required and that refusing to provide this information is completely acceptable, both by the organisation and its funders.”

ACE’s surveys also collect data on ethnicity and disability representation.

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