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Sporting icons and cultural bosses to join Sheffield’s Race Equality Commission for final hearing

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Sheffield’s Race Equality Commission is to hold its final hearing next week, Tuesday 27th and Thursday 29th July, and will examine evidence of racism and racial inequalities in sport and culture in Sheffield.

The hearing will see sport industry experts such as ex professional boxer and Sky Sports Boxing pundit Johnny Nelson, Chris Grant of Sport England and members of The Hamilton Commission alongside the city’s arts and culture bosses, give evidence of their experiences of racism and racial inequalities in the sector and what they’re doing to tackle the issue. The meeting will take place online and members of the public are invited to watch via Zoom from 10am on Tuesday 27 July here and 10.45am on Thursday 29 July here.

Professor Kevin Hylton*, Chair of Sheffield’s Race Equality Commission said, “Next week will be the concluding hearings for the Race Equality Commission before the final report is written. It will allow the commissioners to explore in depth issues and concerns of racial inequalities in the sport and cultural sectors, and what can be done to disrupt them.

“Racism in sport and culture is a complex and deep-rooted matter and I am pleased we have such established industry figures sharing their experiences, research and knowledge with us. I look forward to exploring meaningful ways to address these issues and advocate for real change.”

Chris Grant, Independent Board Member of Sport England and Chair of the Talent Inclusion Advisory Group, has worked inside grassroots and elite sport for 15 years and is challenging the industry to address structural racism in British sport. On giving evidence at the hearing, Chris said, "We’ve seen recently that sport can be a leader and not a follower when it comes to fighting racism in society. However, we also need to recognise that sport still has a long way to go if people from all backgrounds are to enjoy the many benefits it brings. The Sports Councils have recently acknowledged this fact and expressed their commitment to driving racism and racial inequalities out of sport. Local solutions, based on sound evidence, will be critical, so I hope that other cities and regions will learn from this ground-breaking initiative in Sheffield."

Dr Rhys Morgan and Yohanes Scarlett from the Royal Academy of Engineering are also working to address racial inequalities in sport through their research with seven-time Formula 1 world champion Sir Lewis Hamilton, who set up The Hamilton Commission – an inquiry that aims to improve the representation of Black people in UK motorsport. With Formula 1 teams like McLaren opening specialist manufacturing facilities and creating jobs at the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre in Rotherham, the findings of their review are important to the region. 

They said, “While our research highlighted racial inequalities within Formula 1 and the motorsport sector, we also found that structural barriers at all stages of the education system were hampering young Black people from progressing with the right subjects that lead to engineering careers in the sport. By sharing our findings at next week’s hearing, we hope it will go some way to helping the region address these barriers and find solutions to combat them.”

Internationally renowned ex professional boxer and Sky Sports Boxing pundit, Johnny Nelson will also be attending to share his experience of using sport as a vehicle for inclusion and working with the people of Sheffield, he said, “I’m flattered to have been asked to take part in such an important discussion. I was fortunate to grow up and train at the Ingle Gym in Sheffield, which was a multicultural gym. Brendan Ingle brought people together from all backgrounds and was a hugely positive influence for our sport and all the fighters that he trained. I look forward to sharing my own experiences as well as hearing more from the panel attending.”

The hearing will also be attended by some of the city’s most notable cultural institutions including representatives from Sheffield Theatres, Sheffield Museums and Libraries and the University of Sheffield.  They will discuss how they use the arts to include and disrupt systemic racialised problems facing the city. These include improving the diversity of the culture workforce, funding allocation decisions, and decolonising the arts.

Dan Bates, Chief Executive of Sheffield Theatres Trust, said “It is of huge importance for us at Sheffield Theatres to give evidence at the hearing, as we are a key player in the city's cultural offer, and together, we are committed to addressing racial inequalities across Sheffield’s Cultural scene. Culture should be accessible and available to everyone. We have made some positive steps forward but also recognise there is still more we can all do and are determined to improve and drive out existing inequalities in the arts and cultural sector. Sheffield’s Race Equality Commission is hugely important to helping achieve this for the city and we’re delighted to support their work.”

The Race Equality Commission was established last year to provide the city with a non-partisan strategic assessment of the nature, extent and causes of racism, racial disparities and how to tackle them.

Over six thematic public hearings, the commissioners have the opportunity to consider a range of evidence submitted by local people and institutions to form the basis of a report that details the long and short-term measures that are required to disrupt systemic issues concerning race and racialised inequalities in Sheffield. The report will be published at the end of the 12-month project later this year.

The call for evidence remains open, and members of the public and organisations in Sheffield are encouraged to submit evidence to the Commission.

For more information about the Race Equality Commission or how to submit evidence, please visit https://www.sheffield.gov.uk/raceequalitycommission or please contact raceequalitycommission@sheffield.gov.uk for further information

*Professor Emeritus Kevin Hylton is interim Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Culture, Equality and Inclusion at the University of Sussex, and former Head of the Research Centre for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at Leeds Beckett University. He is Patron of Advance HE’s Race Equality Charter, and one of the judges for the Guardian University Awards.