An update on our internal Race Equity work

Date Created: 27th Oct 2021

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Artswork’s mission is to support diversity, and enable those children and young people experiencing disadvantage to have greater life opportunities. Over the last 18 months, since publishing our Black Lives Matter statement, we have been working to make the changes needed to ensure addressing racism is at the forefront of our work with children and young people, and those who work with them. It is about our values and how we implement them both internally and externally – and it is about our work to support Black children and young people, Black staff, and Black artists, educators and partners – and our commitment to be an ally.

Inc Arts Unlock Toolkit

As a staff team, we have been working through the Unlock toolkit, produced by Inc Arts after consultation with a wide range of people who experience racism. This has resulted in thought-provoking conversations between staff and challenged us to think about where we might be missing the mark. It’s also widened the possibilities of what we thought we could do and prompted us to think outside the box through seeing situations and issues from other perspectives.

We’re committing to a significant number of changes to the way we do things, including around advertising and recruiting staff, care for team members, and changing our polices, practices and programmes. These are all targeted, time-bound actions that will make a difference to race equity in our team and our work overall.

Race Equity and Anti-Discrimination programme

We are investing in a Race Equity and Anti-Discrimination programme for all staff, working with specialist provider No Barriers. Taking place between December 2021 and May 2022, the programme aims to help the staff team build confidence, and develop awareness, knowledge and skills to be active anti-racist allies. The programme will be made up of a range of activity formats, including mentoring, panel discussions, group work, individual reflection opportunities and ‘in conversation’ sessions. Staff will also receive training on the Equality Act, Unconscious Bias, understanding and talking about race and racism, and having difficult conversations

Race is a complex topic. This programme offers a safe space to have open conversations, ask questions and explore ideas.

Conversations in Southampton

As we are based in Southampton and the city has a strong ethnically diverse population, we and our partners have been taking the opportunity to engage in conversations with local residents. Artswork’s senior team and Board have had some interesting ‘listening conversations’ with Black activists, community members and organisation leads.

We’d like to extend these into a series of Zoom conversations with different people who experience discrimination, both in terms of race and other forms of discrimination. These will be opportunities for our team to hear people’s stories, and to understand how we can be better allies and act for positive change. We’re seeking new participants and will offer a fee for taking part. Please do get in touch if you’re interested.

Events and resources

As part of Black History Month, in October 2021 we partnered with BHM South CIC to deliver an online briefing for Cultural Education Partnerships (CEPS).  We were joined by representatives from across the South East region keen to find out more about it. Session leader Lou Taylor, Director of BHM South CIC, was an inspiring and energising speaker. He highlighted the special opportunity that Black History Month offers to for place-based partnerships such as CEPs, who can use this annual event to engage local education, community and cultural partners in work that is resonant and meaningful to local children and young people.  Read more about this event here.

We also have a range of resources available on our website from previous events.

In March 2021, Romana Flello and Mezze Eade from the London Theatre Consortium shared the work they have been doing as part of the project Representation in Drama, supported by the Cultural Learning Alliance. They shared the work they have been doing around representation in the performing arts, decolonising the curriculm and anti-racism in a digital session for over 30 teachers from across the South East. Read more about the event here, and explore a range of resources shared in the session by here.

This year we also hosted a Diversity and Inclusion workshop for all South East Cultural Education Partnerships, with guest speakers Euton Daley MBE, and Elizabeth Howard. Reflections from this session can be found here.

Looking Ahead

We still have a long way to go on our journey to true, meaningful allyship and would welcome any suggestions or guidance you would like to share with us. Please email info@artswork.org.uk with the subject line ‘FAO Artswork’s Race Equity Group’. We are passionate about challenging and educating ourselves further and look forward to continuing the conversation and strengthening our commitment to anti-racism in all aspects of our work.

 

Tags:

Anti-racism Black History Month Black Lives Matter Equality and Diversity

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