NEON Online Summit: Elitism and the creative arts – what can higher education do?

  • Date


  • Time

      10:00 am - 4:00 pm

Diversity is an essential catalyst for innovation, progress and success. Only by embracing diversity can the creative industry reflect the rich tapestry of human experience and ensure its work and narratives resonate with audiences from all walks of life. And in an industry dominated by graduates, widening access to creative higher education becomes vital for building a more inclusive and diverse creative workforce. Yet important inequalities of gender, ethnicity and social class currently exist in the applications, offers and acceptances on creative higher education courses, as highlighted in a 2023 report commissioned by the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Creative Diversity. There is a pressing need for dialogue within the higher education sector to identify effective strategies to address these disparities.  

What is the event about? 

At this one-day online summit, delegates will get an in-depth overview of the importance of diversity in creative arts and the challenges that hinder students from widening access backgrounds from accessing and excelling in creative higher education. By showcasing effective interventions that the sector is implementing to address these challenges, this summit provides a platform for participants to exchange and learn good practices and discuss the further actions that can be taken to promote diversity. Given the potential change of government and Labour’s proposed plans to widen access to the creative arts, this event offers a crucial opportunity for timely and essential discussions on this issue. Delegates will leave with a better understanding on how to better engage and support students from widening access backgrounds and create equitable opportunities for all aspiring artists, performers and creatives. 

Speakers include: 

  • Vanessa Wilson, Chief Executive, University Alliance
  • Sophie Amono, Director of Equity, Diversity and Inclusivity, the Council for Higher Education in Art and Design  
  • Dr Tamsyn Dent, Lecturer in Cultural Work, King’s College London 
  • Ashleigh Hope, Head of Access and Participation, Guildhall School of Music and Drama  
  • Hannah Trott, Access and Participation Manager, the Institute of Contemporary Music Performance 
  • Dr Laura da Costa, Access and Participation Development Manager, Leeds Arts University 
  • Lynne Simpkin, Recruitment and Outreach Manager, Norwich University of the Arts 
  • More presenters to be announced 

Who should attend? 

  • Heads of creative arts education institutions, including but not limited to schools in arts, music, dance, drama, theatre, photography, design and fashion 
  • Heads of creative arts departments in higher education institutions 
  • Higher education professionals responsible for widening access and participation activities and their implementation, either within a higher education provider or through a Uni Connect partnership  
  • Higher education professionals with an interest in creative arts 
  • Creative industry professionals working to improve diversity in the field