Preview: Inclusivity Now

Posted on: Monday 29 June 2020 3:29am by Olivia Dickinson

Olivia Dickinson is Excutive Producer of the Inclusivity Now strand of VOD content at CMC 2020 Online. Here she outlines the aims of the content which is new venture for CMC – practical examples of how creators and networks are pursuing inclusive content and expanding diversity in their productions.

The Children’s Media Conference Facebook Group Chat – Inclusivity Now offers the opportunity for delegates to comment, ask questions and discuss the content of all the Inclusivity Now strand at CMC.

This year’s CMC has given us an amazing opportunity to create content that gives you concrete, practical actions and takeaways. Every one of the contributors in the 9 films that are part of Inclusivity Now will tell you at least one practical thing you can go away and do, so that’s at least 9 actions right there…. There will be more!

When Editorial Director of CMC Greg Childs and I first discussed what has become an online VOD strand, Inclusivity Now, we wanted the emphasis to be on action and not on conversation. There’s always ‘conversations’ and sessions ‘moving the conversation on’ at conferences, but not often enough actions or practical tips. We know that many of you as delegates to the CMC are creating content as animators, script writers and authors, games designers and live action producers or you’re getting content in front of children as broadcasters, publishers, licensors or marketers. You are making things happen in your day-to-day jobs, and you need actions that can be part of that, not something to discuss and then put away for the next conversation or conference.

We’ve taken some themes around inclusivity and asked our contributors to tell their own stories, how they have made change happen, and how you can learn from that. Themes include how to get different people accessing the industry and diverse voices being heard, e,g. YACF: This is for You. Whether that’s to do with class, level of education, ethnicity, sex, gender identity,  sexual orientation, disability or geographical region. There’s obviously representation – can all children see themselves on screen, in books, in games or in merchandise? But also representation in the workforce creating the content. And then there’s the content itself – the old adage of ‘content is king’ (or queen?!) still stands: every contributor wants to create the highest quality experiences for children, and they know that inclusivity cannot be separated from that.

From a personal perspective, I started this strand feeling a bit depressed – why are we still having to have these conversations, in 2020? But as I spoke to contributors, heard about others, was connected to more, I felt excited that there are individuals, teams and companies who are putting inclusivity at the heart of what they do.  As Akin Akinsiku says in his video , inclusivity is the implementation of diversity: normalising disability, normalising BAME characters (why is the girl, or the disabled character, or the black boy often the sidekick?); championing and training up junior writers,; ensuring authentic representation and offering expertise and lived experience to those who are open to interrogating their own work.

There are 10 videos, all put together in record time with passion and enthusiasm; there could be another 10, and another 10, if we had the time and energy. Making changes now can be hard work, and requires thought and effort, but I hope you go away understanding the value of data in ensuring diverse voices and perspectives, how to take a step back and be aware of your own unconscious biases and how all of us are creating content that shapes children’s lives, aspirations and life chances.

Join Natalie Petrou from Hopster and Tessa Trabue from Let Toys Be Toys between 12.30 and 1.30pm on Tuesday 7 July in the CMC Facebook Group – Inclusivity Now, to chat about the effects of stereotypes on young children, and what you can do about it.  Post your questions beforehand or come in live at 12.30pm BST (between CMC Question Time and PSBs Commissioner Conversation)

Join Changemaker Lucy Edwards, Rebecca Atkinson from ToyLikeMe, Jessi Parrot from Inclusive Minds and Gareth Deighan from ITV SignPost’s ‘Daremaster’ between 3 and 4pm BST on Wednesday 8 July in the CMC Facebook Group – Inclusivity Now, to chat about normalising disability. Post your questions beforehand or come in live at 3pm (between SVODs Commissioner Conversation and Cressida Cowell’s Creative Keynote). Why not watch their films first? 

Akin Akinsiku and Shabnam Rezaei will be available online in the CMC Facebook Group – Inclusivity Now on Wednesday 8 July at 5pm BST, to give their advice on creating authentic inclusivity in children’s TV (after Cressida Cowell’s Creative Keynote)

All of the above take place in the  CMC Facebook Group. If you are not already a member please ask for permission to join. . 

CMC 2020 Previews Event Previews

Olivia Dickinson

About the author

Olivia Dickinson

Digital Olive, Consultant

Olivia has almost 20 years’ experience in children’s media, across Amazon, the BBC, Nickelodeon and Sky Kids. She freelances as a consultant, mostly in digital media but also in challenging gender inequalities in childhood and education, having built up specialist expertise as a key member of the Let Toys Be… Read more