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Covid-19: “The great unequaliser?”

Date: 12 March 2021
Time: 14:15
Cost: Free
Location: Online

Early evidence shows that Covid-19 is exacerbating existing inequalities in the cultural sector.

Is the pandemic the catalyst the sector needs to build a more equal future? What questions should we be asking and how can we accelerate the pace of change?

In this webinar, we share emerging findings from our major research programme examining the impact of Covid-19 on the cultural sector. We’ll focus on what the research is telling us about inequality, and you’ll hear from project researchers including Mark Taylor, Karen Gray, Ben Dunn, John Wright and Oliver Mantell.

We’ll be joined by leading contributors including Dr Roaa Ali from the University of Manchester and Centre on the Dynamics of Ethnicity and Lara Ratnaraja, a cultural consultant who specialises in diversity, leadership, collaboration and innovation in cultural policy. They will respond to the research findings and share their thoughts on what needs to happen next.

This research programme is led by the Centre for Cultural Value in collaboration with the Creative Industries Policy and Evidence Centre and The Audience Agency. It is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) through UK Research and Innovation’s Covid-19 rapid rolling call.

This is the first of our webinars sharing emerging findings from the research, with another scheduled for June. The research programme runs until November 2021 and there will be further events in November to share final findings.


We want to make the webinar a positive experience for all participants. If you have particular access needs please let us know in advance at

Live transcription by a palantypist (speech to text reporter) is provided for this session. Transcription will be available on Zoom captions, and on

The session takes place on Zoom. Read Zoom’s accessibility FAQ’s here.





Roaa Ali

Roaa Ali

Dr Roaa Ali is a researcher and educator with a growing research profile in race and the cultural industries, access inequality and the politics of minoritised cultural production. She is a Research Associate at the Centre on Dynamics of Ethnicity (CoDE) at the University of Manchester. Currently, she is researching racial and ethnic inequality in the creative and cultural industries at the intersection of Covid-19 and the Black Lives Movement (in collaboration with Creative Access).

She has written extensively about issues of inequality and diversity in the UK creative and cultural industries in the form of academic journals and online articles, and was a guest editor for the Open Access ‘Intersections, Institutions and Inequities: Axes of Oppression in the Cultural Sector’ special issue.

Roaa has a PhD in Drama and Theatre Arts from the University of Birmingham and her thesis explored Arab American and ethnic minority art production within the American cultural and creative industries. Her research in this area will be available through a monograph titled Contemporary Arab American Drama: Cultural politics of ethnicity, Otherness and visibility (Routledge), and a co-edited volume titled Arab, Politics and Performance (Routledge).

Lara Ratnaraja

Lara Ratnaraja

Lara is a freelance cultural consultant specialising in diversity, innovation, leadership, collaboration and cultural policy implementation within the HE, cultural and digital sectors. She develops and delivers projects and policy on how cultural and digital technology intersect for a number of national partners as well as programmes around leadership, resilience and business development for the arts and creative industries.

She works or has worked with the University of Birmingham, Coventry University, Birmingham City University STEAMhouse and University of Salford delivering and developing projects on diversity, digital engagement and research collaborations between arts, HEIs and SMEs.

She was the broker at the University of Birmingham on the AHRC Funded CATH Project (Collaborative Triple Helix) which developed 19 collaborative projects across the East and West Midlands with academics from the both Birmingham and Leicester Universities, cultural organisations and digital SMEs. The research project led to long term collaborative working and investment. She subsequently became Senior Research Facilitator leveraging investment for further knowledge transfer and research collaborations between academics, cultural organisations and artists across the sector. As Sector Development Director – Creative, Cultural and Digital, Business Link West Midlands she ran a £6 million programme for the creative, cultural and digital sector

With Helga Henry, she co-produced RE:Present and ASTONish leadership development programmes which supported the development of cultural leaders from diverse backgrounds so that the cultural ecology of the city better reflects its changing demographic. They are currently delivering AD:Vantage a leadership programme that places the vantage point of d/Deaf, neurodivergent and disabled creative practitioners at the heart of leadership

She is on the Board of Derby Theatres and Vivid Projects and the Advisory Groups for Coventry Biennial and SHOUT Festival. She is on the Midlands Area Council for Arts Council England, the Equality Monitoring Group for Arts Council Wales, and is a Creative Industries Policy and Evidence Centre Industry Champion.

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