CEC: Kevin you’ve dedicated your career to supporting BAME social entrepreneurs, but this fund is a new venture. Why now and how do you think it will make a difference to resolve the disparity of funds distribution?
The confluence of Covid, Black Lives Matter Movement and the macro economic challenges ahead we have a once in a lifetime opportunity to change the existing funding structures; to redistribute power. Both the demand and the need are at peak. It’s the perfect time to try. As you say, it’s been my life’s work so I can’t pass up the chance to at least try.
The aim of Create Equity is to campaign for equitable funding by 2031. We are asking all the major arts and social enterprise funders to commit to this. Using Arts Council England as one example; if they were to implement the pledge today, instead of distributing c.£15m per year to BAME organisations it would be c.£87m per year, were they to fund in proportion to the BAME population. That’s an underinvestment of £72m every year. This under investment has gone on forever and it’s not just Arts Council. Every Arts Council and social investor across the UK under invests to the same extent, in percentage terms.
If the Create Equity 2031 pledge is successful then hundreds of millions more each year will be distributed fairly to BAME organisations. Of course given finite resources the question is where might the money for such a significant redistribution come from? This is the challenge I’m trying to address through the Create Equity Fund, a pilot investment fund for BAME entrepreneurs. The intention is to use public money to make equity investments. Given current public funding regulations this comes with the world of challenges, which maybe we’ll get into when we chat.
CEC: Kevin what are some of the practical actions we as mere civilians can take to create real change?
Change your mindset. Equity doesn’t have to be seen as a zero sum game. If black communities get their fair share of funding, for white communities to see this as a loss, because this funding is no longer available to them is the biggest hurdle to change. Inequity inevitably ends in social fragmentation and this comes at a massive cost to us all. We have to understand that equity is always going to deliver a net gain (perhaps not to you personally) but to society.
CEC: Kevin in addition to your incubator and your new fund you’ve also got a pretty impressive blog called Skin in the Game which looks at current affairs, popular culture and issues in society through the lens of race, identity and power. Can you tell us more about it and your aspirations for this three-pronged approach?
There’s a social consequence to underinvesting in any community be it BAME communities, women or working class people. It means that we don’t harness the full potential of our society and it’s this waste of human potential that drives me crazy. And this waste of human potential has a cost in terms of underachievement, in education, employment, business and as we’ve seen during Covid in health outcomes. People die because of this shit; it’s real.
Skin in the Game is a space for me to explore this reality, to try and make some kind of sense out of it and then use that understanding to make real change happen. By making the link between my own experience and the systems that have underinvested in me I’m hopefully able to develop social enterprises and businesses that will make a difference. Skin in the Game is the source of Create Equity 2031 campaign and it’s also the source of the Create Equity Fund.
My aspirations for this three-pronged approach is very simple; equity!
NB. We have used the abbreviation BAME. We recognise the diversity of individual identities and lived experiences, and understand that BAME is an imperfect term that does not fully capture the racial, cultural and ethnic identities of people that experience structural and systematic inequality.