Hook Research spent the last few days the The Children’s Media Conference 2016, exploring diversity within the kids media industry. A powerful and manic opening keynote from poet Lemn Sissay set the tone for the week: a theme of “Making it Happen” and exploring diversity within the children’s media industry. At the heart of the proceedings was the question: “Are we doing enough?”
Unfortunately, it seems the answer may be “not really”.
Diversity Behind the Camera at The Children’s Media Conference 2016
In many ways, children’s media is light-years ahead of other industries in regards to diversity. Children’s television is repeatedly praised for delivering diverse talent to screens around the world. Our favourite kids’ shows regularly display a host of well-rounded characters from across the complete spectrum of race, gender, class (the dreaded “c-word”), and disability.
But while we are taking great strides forward with our programming, it seems that many production teams behind the cameras still need to catch up. In particular, conference speakers repeatedly described the frustrating socioeconomic barriers facing BAME and disabled individuals within the industry – a state exacerbated by unpaid work, low visibility within talent agencies, and an increasingly budget and time-squeezed indie community.
It’s plain to see that there is still plenty of work that needs to be done. However, I did take heart from the many positive, forward-looking conversations I was fortunate to participate in over the conference’s three days.
“What is the media’s responsibility to children in these bewildering times?”
Unavoidably, a claustrophobic Brexit funk hung over the Children’s Media Conference 2016. But even at the moment when an entire industry feels destabilised – in fact, it is particularly important now – we must still ensure that we are providing a platform for underrepresented voices to speak and create. “Choice is about chances”, as George the Poet so eloquently put it in his closing remarks. Whatever happens within the industry, this is our responsibility to the nation’s children moving forward: to give them the best chances to fully realize their own potential through the creation of positive, diverse role models on both sides of the camera.