Firstsite’s commitment to anti-racism
Colchester has a chequered history as the oldest recorded town in the UK, from where the Romans ‘civilised’ Great Britain just under 2000 years ago. There have been many human rights and wrongs conducted in the town and across the region of East Anglia.
This heritage has forced those of us who live here today to question what our future should look like and how should we best construct this future collectively and with equity at the heart of our most significant conversations.
At Firstsite we openly acknowledge that progress towards an equitable society inside our organisation, on our doorstep and globally has been woefully slow especially with regards Black and Minority Ethnic communities. As a consequence of this we stand fully in support of Black and Minority Ethnic communities, now especially, and for the long-term.
For the last four years we have been in the process of forging a new purpose for Firstsite. Black voices have been central to this project in all areas of our work – in our programme, in our audience development, in our team and in our Board of Trustees.
The Black Lives Matter movement highlights for us how much more there is to do to address the wrongs, structural and cultural, within our own organisation, and within the organisations and networks we have a direct relationship with. We very much consider ourselves allies of the Black Lives Matter movement, but to fully be so we need to acknowledge the practical and philosophical changes we need to make to eradicate racism completely.
We are therefore making the following short and long-term commitments, under each of our 6 organisational goals that we will be held accountable for by our Board of Trustees ,these will form a timed action plan which will be published here, on our website, in September.
We acknowledge that the term Black and Minority Ethnic is imperfect and does not adequately represent all experiences or communities. Through our short and long-term commitments we will work with communities to address this and update this statement to reflect these conversations.
Be a radical and contemporary art gallery
Celebrate and promote the unique power of art and creativity to take society to new places by creating exceptional exhibitions, projects, commissions and events that inspire new thinking on critical issues.
- Ensure at least and preferably more than 8% of exhibitions every year are by artists or curators from Black and Minority Ethnic backgrounds to reflect the East Anglia demographic
- Re-design the architecture of our programme to ensure Black and Minority Ethnic voices are directly involved in authoring each year’s programme strategy
Bring lots of different people together to enjoy contemporary art and culture
Create a dynamic audience that accurately reflects the population of East Anglia and is directly involved in narrating the story of our times through Firstsite’s artistic programme to enable a relevant and meaningful conversation about our collective future.
- Ensure that at least 8% and preferably more of our audiences in the building and online, every year and all year round are from Black and Minority Ethnic backgrounds to reflect our immediate surroundings
- Consult directly with Black and Minority Ethnic communities in the East Anglia region to understand and remove barriers preventing engagement with activities, and produce content that is relevant, inspires and speaks to each community – and brings communities together
- Ensure that Black and Minority Ethnic voices, faces, stories and achievements are amplified throughout all our internal and external communication
Champion the needs of children and young people
Support the eradication of child poverty in East Anglia by addressing the fundamental needs of food, education and empowerment.
- Continue to deliver the Firstsite Holiday Fun programme and ensure it is especially communicated to Black and Minority Ethnic communities
- Fully understand the facts behind why 36.36% of Holiday Fun attendees are from Black and Minority Ethnic communities, almost three times the representative of the local demographic
- Consult directly with these families to understand their particular needs and experiences in order to take further and more specific action
- Establish a youth advisory panel that includes proportionate levels of representation of Black and Minority Ethnic Children and Young People from the area
Be bold in increasing equity
Proactively undertaking positive actions throughout our organisational structure, activities and audience development to enable equity for voices that are currently absent and to create opportunities and provide the support needed for them to be present – in particular eradicating racism wherever it exists in our purpose, organizational structure, people and programme. Use our position and programme to educate our audience on anti-racism and drive positive change in our industry and society.
- Review our current vision, mission and purpose and relating Business Plan and organizational structure with an external advisor to understand the inherent racial biases we have already constructed and seek to change them in the short-term
- Work with an external advisor to inform the shape of our new Business Plan for 2021-26 to ensure we eradicate racism from all our future plans and activities and how we go about informing and authoring these plans
Be financially resilient and share our resources
Develop an agile business model that empowers Firstsite to respond to a constantly changing economic environment with as much creativity as it brings to its artistic programmes. Wherever possible share our resources and expertise with those who have fewer opportunities to create wealth and health for themselves.
- Ensure Black and Minority Ethnic artists working in the East Anglian region are well supported to create long term financial stability for themselves and their practices
- Support the Black and Minority Ethnic organisations we currently partner with to achieve greater levels of financial stability by sharing our expertise and networks
- Review our current suppliers to understand if there are Black and Minority Ethnic companies or organisations who have been overlooked and could be supported to win contracts
Be inspiring in our leadership and governence
Lead by example, by creating and empowering a board and team that reflects the full and complex population and dynamic of East Anglia.
- Review our current Board, team and volunteer membership to identify where more Black and Minority Ethnic people can be encouraged to take up permanent and temporary roles at Firstsite to be in line with local demographics
- Annually publish board, team and volunteer membership demographics from 2021 onwards and achieve a membership which reflects the East Anglia demographic by 2022
- Implement anti-racism and unconscious bias training for our Board, team and volunteers within this financial year and repeat on an annual basis
- Create permanent and short-term opportunities for Black and Minority Ethnic people to join the Firstsite programme team at senior and entry levels and provide resources to support their work
- Review our recruitment processes to ensure we are not creating barriers for potential applications from Black and Minority Ethnic communities to all roles at Firstsite in the future
- Review our succession planning for both Chair and Director roles to increase the likelihood of Firstsite being led by a Black and Minority Ethnic background
- Establish a Board level anti-racism committee including members of the team and volunteers to ensure effective organisation-wide engagement and communication of all outcomes and actions, ensuring that people from Black and Minority Ethnic communities are part of this committee
Published 29 July 2020
Review due 29 September 2020