Understanding autism

One in a hundred people in the UK have autism. That’s enough to fill Wembley Stadium nearly eight times over. That’s a fact. But there are an equal number of myths surrounding autism that are, frankly, unhelpful. Ambitious About Autism dispel some of the biggest myths and give you the lowdown on all the stats … More


  • In the UK, 87% of people are White, and 13% belong to a Black, Asian, Mixed or Other ethnic group.
  • Asian people, at 59%, were significantly less likely to take part in the arts than White people (including White ethnic minorities), at 78%, or Black people, at 70%[1]
  • Black people are three times as likely to be arrested as white people
  • People of white British and Indian backgrounds are more likely than other minorities to be homeowners
  • Among poorer children, those of BME backgrounds have higher attainment levels than white pupils[2]
  • Only 1 in 16 of current FTSE 100 board members is from a Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) background.
  • 1 in 8 employees in the UK are from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic groups.[3]
  • Diverse audiences tend to be heavier film consumers compared to the national average, especially Eastern Europeans (31% are “heavy” film consumers compared to 12% for the national average)
  • Asian, Black, Eastern European and LGB audiences attend the cinema much more frequently than the national average (all over 30% for “very regular” compared to 14% for the national average)
  • These audiences also have an above-average affinity for cinema, with over 1 in 2 Black, Eastern European and LGB audiences saying cinema remains the best place to watch film – even higher (3 in 5) for the Asian audience
  • 7 in 10 of the general public say it is important for some films to portray real life issues facing our communities – our diverse audiences tend to think this even more important (e.g. 88% of the Black audience)
  • Diverse audiences are also more likely to think it important that they can see stories, characters and settings to which they can personally relate – for example, 65% of the working class audience say it is important to see their own stories authentically reflected in the films they watch
  • 67% of the general public say the portrayal of our nation’s diverse audiences has become more authentic over the last ten years – and this view is largely shared by diverse audiences
  • However, when asked about the amount of work needed to be more authentic: 19% of the general public perceived “a great deal” more work needs to be done, comparing to 43% for the Asian audience and 58% of the Black audience
  • The following are the proportions from diverse audiences who say they would watch more films if people from diverse backgrounds were portrayed more authentically: 59% of the Asian audience, 66% of the Black audience, 54% of the Eastern European audience[4]

[1]Ethnicity Facts & Figures, GOV.UK
[2]The Guardian, Huge effect of ethnicity on life chances revealed in official UK figures
[3]Diversity in the UK
[4]Portrayal V Betrayal: an investigation of diverse and mainstream UK film audiences, 2011


Diversity UK is a think tank to research, advocate and promote new ideas for improving diversity and inclusion in Britain. 

UK-BAME represents the diverse collective interests of the UK’s Black, Asians and Minority Ethnic communities who expressed interest or require assistance in developing businesses, community groups, lifestyles, and careers.

Refugee Action has spent 35 years helping refugees build safe, hopeful and productive new lives in the UK.

The British Blacklist offers reviews, news and social analysis striving to bring a voice to burgeoning talent, which rarely receive any visibility. Featuring an extensive database of African Caribbean British creative talent with a strong features-driven core.

The New Black Film Collective is network of film exhibitors, educators and programmers spread across the regions in the UK. As part of our range of services, we host screenings that matter to the local community featuring international and domestic films of black representation. 

Come the Revolution is a collective of curators, programmers and creatives from Bristol & Birmingham committed to exploring and challenging black life, experience and cultural expression through cinema.

We Are Parable believe in the power of events. They want to make events that leave a legacy and produce memories that last.

Birmingham Indian Film Festival – BIFF – brings you the best new Indian & South Asian independent cinema, with a rare window into a billion South Asian lives.

Gentle/Radical is a grassroots cultural organisation and platform for radical thinking, creative practice and social change.

In Place of War has worked with creative communities in some of the most challenging context in the world. In Place of War is a support system for community artistic, creative and cultural organisations in places of conflict, revolution and areas suffering the consequences of conflict.

Afrika Eye Film Festival, held annually in Bristol, is the South West’s biggest celebration of African cinema and culture. Our Festival brings films and diverse perspectives on Africa and the African diaspora to growing audiences in Bristol and the South West.

Desi Blitz is a digital magazine based in Birmingham, England. It’s the leading online magazine for British Asian communities in the UK.

David Oyelowo's full speech on diversity at the BFI Black Star Symposium

Idris Elba: Speech on diversity in the media and films

  • Asexual (or ace) – someone who does not experience sexual attraction.
  • Bi / bisexual – a romantic or sexual orientation towards more than one gender.
  • Cisgender or Cis – someone whose gender identity is the same as the sex they were assigned at birth.
  • Gay – refers to a man who has a romantic or sexual orientation towards men. Some women also define themselves as gay rather than lesbian.
  • Gender identity – a person’s innate sense of their own gender, whether male, female or something else (see non-binary below), which may or may not correspond to the sex assigned to them at birth.
  • Gender reassignment – to undergo gender reassignment usually means to undergo some sort of medical intervention, but it can also mean changing names, pronouns, dressing differently and living in your self-identified gender.
  • Heterosexual / straight – a romantic and/or sexual orientation towards people of the opposite gender.
  • Intersex – a term used to describe a person who may have the biological attributes of both sexes or whose biological attributes do not fit with societal assumptions about what constitutes male or female.
  • Lesbian – refers to a woman who has a romantic or sexual orientation towards women.
  • Non-binary – an umbrella term for a person who does not identify as only male or only female, or who may identify as both.
  • Pronoun – words we use to refer to people’s gender in conversation – for example, ‘he’ or ‘she’. Some people may prefer others to refer to them in gender neutral language and use pronouns such as they / their. If you’re not sure what pronoun someone prefers, just ask them.
  • Queer – in the past a derogatory term for LGBT individuals. The term has now been reclaimed by some LGBT people in particular who don’t identify with traditional categories around gender identity and sexual orientation but is still viewed to be derogatory by some. Queer is often used in a film and arts context or to refer to a more intersectional approach.
  • Trans – an umbrella term to describe people whose gender is not the same as, or does not sit comfortably with, the sex they were assigned at birth. Trans people may describe themselves using one or more of a wide variety of terms, including Transgender, Transsexual, Genderqueer, Genderfluid, Non-binary, Agender, or Two-spirit.
  • Transgender man – a term used to describe someone who is assigned female at birth but identifies and lives as a man. This may be shortened to trans man or FTM (female-to-male).
  • Transgender woman – a term used to describe someone who is assigned male at birth but identifies and lives as a woman. This may be shortened to trans woman or MTF (male-to-female).
  • Transsexual – this was used in the past as a more medical term to refer to someone who transitioned to live in the ‘opposite’ gender to the one assigned at birth. This term is still used by some although most people prefer the term trans or transgender.

For further glossary terms, visit Stonewall’s website.

Whether you are running a specific programme to engage with LGBTQ+ audiences or simply hoping to grow LGBTQ+ representation in your existing screenings, it’s really important to remember some key things to make sure you are sensitively and appropriately programming, promoting, and welcoming audiences in your cinema.

  1. Work with LGBTQ+ people themselves, whether it’s working with community or national organisations or with people within your own organisation.
  2. Employ a more diverse workforce at all levels. Welcome diverse groups in your job applications and your mission statements.
  3. If you can, get training delivered to staff about how to engage sensitively with audiences, and for a better understanding of the experience of LGBTQ+ people.
  4. Consider that people have multiple identities so communication needs to work for LGBTQ+ people across your whole programme, and don’t presume that you will only have an LGBTQ+ turnout for your targeted programming.
  5. Get LGBTQ+ people to audit your venue to give feedback about how the space feels, about signage, and about the customer service experience.
  6. Make sure you take feedback on board and actually use it, and share your reasoning across the organisation.
  7. Consider the tone of your signage – can you be gender neutral?
  8. Think about lesser told stories – not just the obvious films… Are you including lesbian and trans stories? Think about the filmmakers and if they have credibility.
  9. Get LGBTQ+ people to programme and give insights into marketing and audience development. (Best practice with any consultancy is to pay people!)
  10. Revise your communications with LGBTQ+ insights – what kind of language do you use? Are you welcoming? Is there subtle prejudice in the way you communicate that needs to be considered?
  11. You’ll need to do more community and social marketing. Engage with charities and relevant LGBTQ+ organisations.
  12. Use gay bars and clubs/venues and LGBTQ+ centres for your print advertising. If there are Pride events in your calendar, go along…
  13. Consider your survey. Do you have all the necessary fields for gender and sexuality? It’s a lot better to ask people to self-identify rather than to designate fields around gender.
  14. Could you be gathering deeper, qualitative, useful feedback – can you make yourself available to audiences for interviews/conversations afterwards?
  15. Think about opening up a dialogue and your audience will recognise the efforts you are making, and champion you to their networks. Even social media polls can be useful.
  16. Make it known that you’re trying to improve and willing to listen and learn.

An Unashamed Claim to Visibility

Project overview A short film programme curated by Wotever DIY Film Festival presenting an exciting selection of performative work by functionally diverse filmmakers exploring the intersections of queerness and disability. All films are captioned for D/deaf and Hard of Hearing audiences and are audio described for visually impaired audiences. The programme has been screened 3 … More


Stonewall, as the leading organisation advocating for LGBT+ rights in the UK, says it is a reasonable estimate that there are between 5-7% people in the UK who are LGBT+.

Some further interesting statistics:

  • One in five LGBT people have experienced a hate crime or incident because of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity in the last 12 months
  • Two in five trans people have experienced a hate crime or incident because of their gender identity in the last 12 months[1]
  • Nearly half (42 per cent) of trans people are not living permanently in their preferred gender role stated they are prevented from doing so because they fear it might threaten their employment status[2]
  • Nearly half (45 per cent) of LGBT pupils – including 64 per cent of trans pupils – are bullied for being LGBT in Britain’s schools. This is down from 55 per cent of lesbian, gay and bi pupils who experienced bullying because of their sexual orientation in 2012 and 65 per cent in 2007[3]
  • A quarter of the world’s population believes that being LGBT should be a crime[4]
  • 1 in 3 homeless youth are LGBT[5]
  • LGBT people are more likely to be substance dependent[6]
  • LGBT people are more likely to face mental health challenges such as depression and anxiety[7]

[1]Stonewall: The Gay British Crime Survey (2013) and LGBT in Britain – Hate Crime (2017)
[2]Stonewall: Gay in Britain (2013) and Engendered Penalities (2007)
[3]Stonewall: The School Report (2017) and The RaRE Research Report (2015)
[4]Stonewall: Stonewall’s International Work and ILGA World (2016).
[5]Crisis, 2005
[6]University of Central Lancashire, 2014
[7]King et al 2008


Stonewall works for acceptance without exception for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

LGBT Foundation is a national charity delivering advice, support and information services to lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (LGBT) communities.

See the downloads for a detailed list of organisations.

How to talk (and listen) to transgender people - Jackson Bird

How We Can Reduce Prejudice with a Conversation- David Fleischer

Not only is cinema one of the most accessible forms of experience for audiences on a tight budget, but it’s also a form that straddles the arts, entertainment and leisure categories.

That means that cinema is best placed to be a gateway for people seeking experiences to improve their quality of life, and looking for transformative and positive social interactions.

The law and our definition

Besides that, cinemas have a moral and legal (Equality Act 2010) obligation as public venues to be accessible to all types of audience, and to make suitable changes to their programme and environment to accommodate audiences that may be marginalised by disability, minority or a mixture of traits that could see them feeling alienated from the cinema experience. To this end, we seek to increase diversity throughout the Film Audience Network.

Our definition of diversity is to recognise and acknowledge the quality and value of difference. Our focus is on disability, gender, race, age and sexual orientation (as they pertain to the Equality Act 2010), because there continues to be significant under-representation in these areas. We also seek to ensure that people from lower socio-economic groups are better represented.


There are some compelling statistics to clarify why cinemas should be supported to be inclusive in their approach to audiences, and to provide accessible screenings:

  • The UK is among the worst performing EU states on improvements to gender equality, and hasn’t improved in 10 years.
  • One in five LGBT people have experienced a hate crime or incident because of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity in the last 12 months.
  • Nearly half (42 per cent) of trans people are not living permanently in their preferred gender role stated they are prevented from doing so because they fear it might threaten their employment status.
  • Today, 30% of children in the UK are living in poverty.
  • There are over 11 million people in the UK with a limiting long term illness, impairment or disability. Life costs you £570 more on average a month if you’re disabled.
  • It is estimated that 1 in 6 people in the past week experienced a common mental health problem and major depression is thought to be the second leading cause of disability worldwide and a major contributor to the burden of suicide and ischemic heart disease.
  • There are around 700,000 people on the autism spectrum in the UK – that’s more than 1 in 100. If you include their families, autism is a part of daily life for 2.8 million people. 70% of autistic adults said that with more support they would feel less isolated.
  • There are 850,000 people living with dementia across the UK, and this is set to rise to over 2 million by 2051. 34% of these people don’t feel part of their community and 61% felt anxious or depressed recently.
  • Almost half of blind and partially sighted people feel ‘moderately’ or ‘completely’ cut off from people and things around them.
  • 34% of respondents with hearing loss said they were dissatisfied with the accessibility of cinemas. Less than 1% of cinema showtimes are accessible via captions in the UK. 83% of people with hearing loss said they would attend cinema regularly if a nearby cinema had captioned shows at convenient times.


Where a person has protected characteristics that might place them in a minority group, they are also likely to be affected by other factors that increase their diversity and need for even greater measures by providers to ensure inclusion:

  • Between 44% – 52% of autistic people may have a learning disability.
  • At least one in three autistic adults are experiencing severe mental health difficulties due to a lack of support.
  • People from black and minority ethnic communities are at greater risk of some of the leading causes of sight loss.
  • Older people with sight loss are almost three times more likely to experience depression than people with good vision.

The benefits

Inclusive Cinema provides a slice of normal life for audiences with disabilities, and their companions, who may find social and physical barriers when they usually visit cinemas. Simple, practical changes can make a world of difference in bringing film to a wider audience.

Diversifying audiences isn’t just about being fair, and legally appropriate however. There is a real economic value in expanding the capabilities of cinema spaces to bring in audiences from all backgrounds and with a range of requirements. Audience portfolios that are diverse result in more robust organisations, that can handle changes in economic climate, and cultural trends.

As an example, the “purple pound” is the potential spend from over 11 million people with a limiting long term illness, impairment or disability, and is reckoned to be worth around £249bn, as you can see in this BBC video.

Inclusive Cinema was a UK-wide project developed by the BFI Film Audience Network (FAN) designed to support screen exhibitors. Together, we celebrated diversity on screen, in the audience and behind the camera.