A new research report, AMPLIFY: A CALL FOR TRANSFORMATIVE ACTION, launched today at the Project Arts Centre in Dublin. Irish Theatre Institute commissioned the report as part of the Safe to Create Programme. 

AMPLIFY presents the findings of a comprehensive research programme, designed to shed light on the lived experiences of disabled, LGBTQIA+, and ethnically diverse artists and arts workers in Ireland. More than 500 artists and arts workers from across different art forms, including visual arts, theatre, film, music, literature, and others, participated in the study, which comprised online surveys, focus groups, and one-to-one interviews.  

To capture information on the lived experience of intellectually disabled (ID) artists, a strand of the research focused specifically on surveying ID artists, family members of ID artists, ID arts organisations, and arts workers who facilitate arts projects with ID artists. 

 “The study has been designed and rolled out in close consultation with the constituent groups concerned, and the research captures both quantitative and qualitative data on the lived experiences of artists and arts workers in Ireland. Respondents were asked about their views on how their disability, minoritised racial or ethnic background, sexual orientation, gender identity, or intersex status impacts them in their workplace, and the research findings offer important insights that are hugely valuable for the ‘Safe to Create’ programme,” said the study’s lead researcher, Dr Ciara Murphy. 

The findings reveal that disabled, LGBTQIA+, and ethnically diverse artists and arts workers are experiencing discrimination, exclusion, and other harmful behaviours and challenging conditions in Ireland’s arts and creative sector.  

Key findings set out in the report include: 

  • Identity-based discrimination is pervasive and takes many forms. For example, 63% of disabled respondents experienced disability-related micro-aggressions; while 43% of LGBTQIA+ respondents reported facing micro-aggressions related to their sexual orientation, gender identity, or intersex status. Just over half (51%) of racially and ethnically minoritised respondents said they had experienced racial micro-aggressions, and a further 40% indicated they had experienced racial discrimination in their workplaces. Micro-aggressions include negative or non-inclusive language, comments, jokes, and other harmful behaviours.  
  • A significant number of respondents feel they missed opportunities at work due to negative perceptions of them by others. This was stated by 74% of disabled respondents; 43% of LGBTQIA+ respondents; and 54% of racially and ethnically minoritised respondents. Additionally, two-thirds of facilitators working with ID artists and all ID organisations surveyed reported that ID artists are ‘often’ or ‘somewhat’ discouraged from exploring certain arts practices.  
  • Reporting structures and policies are not operating well, and many individuals are afraid to raise issues at work. Specifically, 60% of disabled respondents; 55% of racially and ethnically minoritised respondents; and 45% of LGBTQIA+ respondents indicated that they fear reputational damage. Family members of ID artists also cited various reasons for not reporting issues.  
  • There is a lack of awareness and understanding of the lived experience of minoritised artists and arts workers and the burden of improving conditions falls on the minoritised artists and arts workers themselves. For instance, 59% of disabled respondents highlighted a lack of understanding of disability-related issues in their workplaces, and 69% noted that disabled artists and arts workers are doing most of the work to improve conditions in the sector for this constituency. More than half (53%) of LGBTQIA+ respondents feel their colleagues lack awareness/sensitivity on LGBTQIA+ identity, with 73% stating that LGBTQIA+ artists and arts workers are doing most of the work to improve conditions. Two-thirds of racially or ethnically minoritised respondents said their colleagues lack awareness/sensitivity in respect of race/ethnicity, with almost half saying that racially or ethnically minoritised artists and arts workers are doing most of the work to improve conditions. Three-quarters of facilitators working with ID artists and half of ID artists’ family members believe there is a poor understanding of intellectual disability within the sector.  

Commenting on the report, Director of ITI and Safe to Create, Niamh O’Donnell, said: “It is clear from our research that marginalisation in the arts is the result of structural and systemic discrimination. This persistently places LGBTQIA+, disabled, and ethnically diverse artists and arts workers at a disadvantage compared to their peers. This exclusion undermines and undervalues their work, and adversely impacts everyone in society.  

“To create a safe, respectful, inclusive, and equitable working environment for everyone, meaningful change and actions are required throughout all levels of the sector. This includes activating leaders to advance transformation in their organisations; building policy, process and action led commitment; and expanding capacity through the provision of training and resources. It also includes challenging systemic barriers and inherent structural ableism, homophobia, transphobia, and racism through inter-departmental and inter-agency collaboration. Our report sets out detailed recommendations under each of these headings.” 

The recommendations represent a measured start and shared pathway towards ensuring dignity, equity, and inclusion in Ireland’s arts and creative sector.

Niamh O’Donnell: “The more diverse our sector becomes, the stronger it will be.  Equity is about rights, fairness and justice. It’s imperative everyone is treated with the same dignity and respect.”   

The launch event was hosted by Dublin-based writer, performer and cultural consultant Chandrika Narayanan-Mohan, and comprised the presentation of the research findings and associated recommendations and an in-conversation between Irish-Nigerian academic, author, and broadcaster, Emma Dabiri, and theatre director Oonagh Murphy.

The event included a panel discussion entitled ‘CHANGEMAKERS: Artists leading the way’, moderated by curator and writer Iarlaith Ní Fheorais, and featured artists Alan James Burns, Shane Michael Byrne (supported by Caroline Loughman), Amahra Spence, Lianne Quigley, and Oein DeBhairduin, who spoke about their work and approaches to tackling barriers they have encountered in the arts sector.

A recording of a spoken word performance by Nigerian-Irish poet FELISPEAKS, commissioned and created specifically for the event, was screened, and the event closed with a performance by Libyan-Irish singer songwriter Farah Elle. 

This work forms part of Safe to Create’s significant three-year research strand in response to the recommendations of SPEAK UP: A Call for Change (launched 2021) to examine the prevalence and impact of harmful behaviours in Ireland’s arts/creative sector. Importantly, the insights gathered will guide and assist in the development of further Safe to Create supports, toolkits, training and other materials to improve workplace experience in our sector.   

The report is available for download from 


Safe to Create is a Dignity at Work programme looking to impact change on the culture and practices of the Arts and Creative sectors. It is managed by Irish Theatre Institute, in partnership with the Arts Council, Screen Ireland and Minding Creative Minds, on behalf of the Department of
Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media.