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Our anti-racism actions to date and our plans for the immediate future

Black square with white letters saying action

In early June, in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement, we wrote that “we are actively committed to educating ourselves and are in the process of discussing and actioning a lot of changes in our organisation.” We want to share with you what this really means and what we are doing to be actively anti-racist.

We are a majority white organisation and, since last year, we have had to face some hard truths about the impact our organisational culture has had on some of our colleagues of colour and the artists of colour with whom we work. We started work on our anti-racism strategy and action plan in autumn 2019 as part of an ongoing commitment to creating a more equitable and inclusive arts organisation for our team and the artists and communities with whom we work.

At Artsadmin, our values prompt us to be bold and collaborative and to think sustainably – this means rethinking everything we do and how we do it with consideration; who we work with and how we work with them; and to commit to continued and long-term learning and change. This is an on-going process and we will provide an updated account of our actions every 6 months from November 2020.

Here is a summary of Artsadmin’s anti-racist work to date and our plans for the immediate future:

Training

  • All staff are doing anti-racism training led by Mel Larsen and Ishreen Bradley. We have done two of three day-long sessions so far, with our final session taking place in September 2020 (this was postponed because of Covid-19 so that we could ensure the full participation of the team).
  • As a result of this training, we have formed Race Resolutions groups that are working on specific target areas. These groups are focused on: governance and leadership; recruitment, training and retention; programming, marketing, participation and audiences. The training will culminate in us writing and implementing an anti-racism policy to be reviewed regularly.

Staff and Board Recruitment and Retention

  • One of the Race Resolutions group actions is a commitment we made in February. For recruitment, we now ensure that there is a person of colour on the interview panel for every role we advertise. We also provide a chance to meet some of the team at interview stage to give insight into the organisational culture, as well as an opportunity to ask questions outside the interview.
  • Once in the role, any successful candidate who is a person of colour will have access to an external coach or mentor, paid for by Artsadmin, to provide support in a majority white community.
  • Another Race Resolutions group action was focused on our recent recruitment call out for new Board members. We proactively promoted these by reaching out to arts workers from Black, Asian and ethnically diverse backgrounds, and researched and invited people of colour whose ideas and values we found exciting and challenging to apply. This Board recruitment is ongoing, and together with the retirement of current Board members we aim that at least 50% of our board members will be people of colour by mid-2021.

Artistic Programme

  • Our recent producer appointments, selection of Bursary artists(supported by Live Art UK’s Diverse Actions), commissions and new project curation have been focused on urgently addressing the lack of Black and POC voices in our organisation and programme.
  • We are prioritising recruiting Black and POC producers with decision-making power in our organisation as a key urgency in the next 12 months so that a greater share of artistic decision-making in our organisation is led by Black and POC artistic experience.
  • We are prioritising projects by artists of colour, and reimagining the way in which our portfolio of produced projects is understood and communicated to greater reflect our values and the society in which we live and work.
  • We are currently rethinking our artist support offering to specifically address the needs of Black and POC artists.

Our anti-racist work intersects with our wider work on inclusion:

  • Our access and inclusion sub-committee meets monthly and, in the past year, has collaboratively created new policies and procedures including a Safer Spaces policy, Welcome Statement and Transitioning at Work policy.
  • We have an intersectional reading group, led collaboratively by our team, that spotlights texts focused on race, disability, queer identities and the politics of difference. In these monthly gatherings, we collaboratively read and discuss articles, books and essays, and reflect on our own positions personally and professionally. So far we have read texts by Akala, Reni Eddo-Lodge, Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha, Robin DiAngelo and Audre Lorde, among others.
  • Our staff have taken part in other training in the past year including Mental Health First Aid, Trans Allies, Conscious Listening, Disability and Equality, and Safeguarding, as well as attending Stonewall’s annual conference.
  • Intersectionality is the key approach of our year-long organisational strategic review process currently taking place, which is led and facilitated by Season Butler.
  • We are developing our building to be more accessible including an improved, better-equipped rest space.

Next actions

  • Our strategic review and planning will also look at the way the staff team is formed, and work with the recruitment and retention Race Resolutions group to actively diversify the leadership of the organisation in the future.
  • We will establish an Accountability Committee for Artsadmin, composed of Board, staff and artists, to uphold our policies and to monitor and report on our activities and actions. The terms of reference, recruitment and first meeting of this group will take place by March 2021.
  • We commit to reporting on our progress, year-on-year in our annual report, including the demographics of our staff, our board, the artist leading the projects we produce, and the artists we support through our Artist Support programmes.

We are listening and welcoming your feedback. Please contact us via email and you can also arrange a call to discuss any of the above:
Deborah Chadbourn, Executive Director, deborah@artsadmin.co.uk
Róise Goan, Artistic Director, roise@artsadmin.co.uk

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