Black Lives Matter statement and resources
Resources, education, donations and links for Black Lives Matter and associated projects
Artquest stands in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement (including Black Lives Matter UK) in calling for an end to racist practices, systems and behaviours, both inside and outside of the arts.
Living in a racist country – one that generally refuses to acknowledge or discuss its colonial legacy, even as its commemorative statues are torn down, and as the non-white migrants invited here to work are disproportionately affected by Covid-19 – it’s not enough to be simply not racist. We need to be anti-racist in all the projects and programmes we deliver, and in the way we deliver them. We are in an ongoing process of educating ourselves to work out how to dismantle our part of the racist and inequitable structures we inevitably operate within, and invite you to contact us to add to these resources.
Whatever change is needed white people have to play a significant part. For too long the emotional labour of people of colour has been expected to eliminate racism while ‘educating’ white people in the behaviours they themselves perpetuate. The arts are particularly susceptible to this, with exhibitions and programmes organised to perform anti-racism often initiated by funding from former colonial-era corporations while leaving the structures that maintain power intact.
While we already have in place some structures and programmes aimed at a more equitable art world, we know we have more to do, particularly regarding ethnic diversity. For some years our programme has been more focussed on supporting people from lower socio-economic and working class backgrounds, another known inequity in the arts. Since 2012 our AWP Internships programme has included 75% people who were the first in their family to attend higher education, 60% who received a means-tested bursary when at university, 25% identifying as non-white and 90% identifying as female.
We have already:
- Created blind selection processes to choose artists for most of our projects, trying to remove bias from our panels by removing identifying information from selection, and used these since 2018. (Some projects that require shortlisting via website links cannot be selected without some identifying information shown to selectors.)
- Solicited expressions of interest from our edge network for more diverse freelance colleagues, selection panel judges and Advisory Group members this year.
- Commissioned research to build on our AWP Internships programme to understand the potential for digital / blended models of internships in light of changed working patterns due to Covid-19, taking into account digital inequalities and how to mitigate these.
- Publish anonymised data on the diversity of our freelance colleagues (including selection panel judges and the artists who are selected), staff, and Advisory Group, and actively seek to increase diversity of the people we work with.
- Continue to develop programmes delayed by Covid-19 that address our EQUITY theme for 2020, with more focus on decolonising our programme and ensuring representation of our community.
- Develop and expand our existing research residency to address the theme of EQUITY in light of Black Lives Matter.
- Analyse existing projects to identify and remove barriers to applicants from non-white backgrounds.
It’s easy to call for the end of something and leave it at that. Drawing on our processes to eliminate barriers for people from Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds, those with caring responsibilities, women, and people from working class backgrounds, we are determined to change our working practices, to be anti-racist, and to work for equity and social justice in the arts and beyond.
Remember that there is still a pandemic so if you are going to a protest, practice social distancing where possible and wear a face covering. Do not attend a protest if you are experiencing any Covid-19 symptoms – fever, persistent coughing, or a change or lack of taste and/or smell.
“The problem is that white people see racism as conscious hate, when racism is bigger than that. Racism is a complex system of social and political levers and pulleys set up generations ago to continue working on the behalf of whites at other people’s expense, whether whites know/like it or not. Racism is an insidious cultural disease. It is so insidious that it doesn’t care if you are a white person who likes black people; it’s still going to find a way to infect how you deal with people who don’t look like you. Yes, racism looks like hate, but hate is just one manifestation. Privilege is another. Access is another. Ignorance is another. Apathy is another. And so on. So while I agree with people who say no one is born racist, it remains a powerful system that we’re immediately born into. It’s like being born into air: you take it in as soon as you breathe. It’s not a cold that you can get over. There is no anti-racist certification class. It’s a set of socioeconomic traps and cultural values that are fired up every time we interact with the world. It is a thing you have to keep scooping out of the boat of your life to keep from drowning in it. I know it’s hard work, but it’s the price you pay for owning everything.”
Scott Woods via Good Reads
Resources, links and action on anti-racism
Funding for artists focussed on BLM
- Black Artists Grant: The Black Artists Grant, organised by Creative Debuts, is a number of £500 grants given out no-strings attached every month to a black artist in the UK
- Hastings Museum & Art Gallery: To amplify and support the work of Black and ethnic minority creators, Hastings Museum & Art Gallery will commission open responses from local Black and minority ethnic people to George Floyd’s killing and the Black Lives Matter movement
Compiled by Nandini Mitra, this is a huge list of practical actions that you can take in support of Black Lives Matter, from petitions to fundraising to protests (via Cambridge Student Union BME Campaign).
Although the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown has decimated artists incomes, if you are able please consider donating to funds in support of:
- Black Lives Matter (USA) and/or Black Lives Matter UK (also accepting Bitcoin donations)
- Funds are being raised for community bail funds, mutual aid funds, and racial justice organisers in the USA
- The Free Black University is fundraising to set up a hub for radical and transformative knowledge production by Melz Owusu, covered in The Guardian
- The National Memorial Family Fund is accepting donations to support their small grants programme for UK families and their campaign groups that are affected by deaths in custody
- Mental health support for Black people is being provided by Black Minds Matter, who are also accepting donations for their work
- Newham Bookshop is seeking donations to distribute free books on race-relations history and racial justice, including children’s books on racism, to those who can’t afford them
Resources, research and projects on anti-racism
- Stand Up to Racism: news, networks, resources and donations
- Race 2 Dinner: US project confronting white women’s attitudes to race and challenging their racism
- Do The Work: a website of resources, film and books meant for white people who want to delve into the issue of racism in the UK
- Topple the Racists: a crowdsourced map of statues, street names, schools and other institutions named for slave traders and other traders involved in the triangular slave trade
- Our Migration Story: The Making of Britain: award-winning teaching resource on the long history of migrants’ presence and belonging in Britain
- The London Campaign Against Police and State Violence: voluntary campaigners working to make the Metropolitan Police accountable to local communities for abuses of power; and bring an end to its culture of brutality and racial profiling including the racist use of Stop & Search
- Being Black in the EU: a report by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights
- Put our colonial history on the curriculum – then we’ll understand who we really are: Maya Goodfellow in the Guardian advocating for curriculum change
- Reading the Riots: a qualitative research study conducted jointly by the Guardian and the LSE into the causes and consequences of the 2011 riots in England, triggered by the death of Mark Duggan at the hands of Tottenham police
- Forensic Architecture: The Killing of Mark Duggan: on 4 August 2011, Mark Duggan was shot to death by police in Tottenham, north London, after undercover officers forced the minicab in which he was travelling to pull over. In this investigation FA uses public domain footage and inquiry statements to recreate these events, focussing on the firearm police say he threw into a nearby vacant plot.
- Ethnicity, Race and Inequality in the UK: State of the Nation: a report by leading racial justice organisations and researchers on how race inequalities are present in sectors in society including housing, education, criminal justice, politics, health, arts & media representation
- New York Times: An Antiracist Reading List
- Support BLM page of donations, education resources, film, petitions, articles, links to email your local MP, social media account and specific resources for children
- Time magazine: 12 Movies to Watch to Educate Yourself About Racism and Protest History
- Teach British children about the realities of British Imperialism and Colonialism
- Update GCSE reading lists to include texts on race relations in the UK
- UK Govt to suspend the export of arms and riot gear to the US
- Make Black History Month a compulsory part of curricula in the UK
- BAME LEADERSHIP: A DEMAND FOR A COVID-19 RACE EQUALITY STRATEGY
Anti-racism and decolonising the arts
- OnCurating: Decolonizing Art Institutions (PDF): December 2017 issue of OnCurating compiling the outcome of the symposium at the Kunstmuseum Basel and a summer academy at the Zurich University of the Arts
- Decolonising Practices: texts, visual essays and conversations on questions of power, resistance and the critical potential of art from L’Internationale
- Black Artists & Modernism National Collections Audit to determine in which publicly-funded collections one can find artworks by artists of African, Caribbean, Asian and MENA Region descent who were born in, lived, worked or studied in the UK
- Occupy Collections!: Clémentine Deliss in conversation with Frédéric Keck on the urgency of remediating ethnographic collections
- The Fight to Decolonize the Museum: discussion on colonial museum collections and dealing with racist colonial cultural artefacts, focussing on the Royal Museum for Central Africa in Brussels
The history of UK slavery
- The Centre for the Study of the Legacies of British Slave-ownership (UCL): includes stories of slave-owners and enslaved people, and on the commercial and cultural legacies of slavery in the UK.
Arts organisations resource pages and projects
Numerous arts organisations have prepared pages of resources for reading, donations and action – we present a non-exhaustive list of these to avoid duplication and promote their activity.
- Museum Detox: Standing in Solidarity with BLM: Transforming support into ACTIONS
- Contemporary Art Society: resources for arts professionals
- New Contemporaries: statement, resources and links
- Camden Arts Centre: anti-racism pledge and actions
- People Dancing: support statement, actions and resources
- Imagine Anthology from Counterpoint Arts: as well as an excellent list of resources on anti-racism, refugee arts organisation Counterpoint Arts launch Imagine Anthology a digital collection of global voices to coincide with Refugee Week in a powerful call to imagine a better world
Racial equity in the arts
- migrants in culture – a support network and action group that holds the cultural sector accountable to migrants, citizens of colour and all others being impacted by the immigration regime, in our workplaces and neighbourhoods
- UAL Decolonising Arts Institute – challenging colonial legacies and disrupting ways of seeing, hearing, thinking and making
- It’s time for the arts world to look hard at its own racism – article from over 4 years ago on the renaming of cultural buildings and removal of statues in civic life
- Diversity shortcomings underlined by Arts Council England report – Museums Association report on 2018 ACE diversity audit
- Healing Justice London – spaces, tools and resources of healing for Black, Brown, working class and LGBTQI communities – to undo harms, repair, vision and sustain futures possible free from intimate, interpersonal and structural violence
For 2020 our programme theme is EQUITY, (2018 was SPACE, and 2019 was WORK – read more in our Almanack). We had already begun collecting research to educate ourselves in developing projects, articles and interventions, before the Covid-19 emergency necessitated massive changes to our programme. Our focus was wider than racism on all systemic inequities and how artists can help tackle these via practice. We and publish some of these links here.
- Panic! It’s an Arts Emergency: groundbreaking research on social inequality in the arts commissioned by Create London, Arts Emergency and Barbican
- The limits of the pursuit of profit: Financial Times article about companies who are trying to define a broader purpose for their business than profit
- Are You Ready To Consider That Capitalism Is The Real Problem?: Fast Company on the inequities and racism required for capitalism to function
- The UCL Circular Economy Lab: a cross-faculty, cross-discipline initiative to improve the design of buildings and products, their re-use and recycling, and the return of their constituent materials back to the economy
- How British-Caribbeans started the first credit union in Britain: article on Mutual Interest Media on how British-Caribbeans set up alternative banking and saving systems in response to racist denial of mainstream banking services
- Towards cultural democracy: promoting cultural capabilities for everyone – report from King’s Cultural Enquiry presenting a vision of how to build a cultural life for the UK that is valuable for everyone, and made by all
- How to really make America great again: Get rid of ‘the dumbest idea in the world’ – Daily Kos, on shareholder value
- Colonial Film: Moving Images of the British Empire: detailed information on over 6,000 films showing images of life in the British colonies
- The Netherlands will pay reparations to Indonesian victims of colonial atrocities. Could the UK do the same?: ABC News
- Uncomfortable Art Tours by the exhibitionist: tours of cultural institutions that focus on how they came into being against a backdrop of imperialism and colonialism, and how these forces shaped and funded our national collections
Arts sponsorship, funding and structures
- James Baldwin: The Moral Responsibility of the Artist: speech given by writer James Baldwin at the University of Chicago on May 21, 1963. YouTube, 1hr
- Should Big Oil back Big Art?: Financial Times article on arts sponsorship and the ethics of fossil fuel money supporting the arts
- Serpentine Galleries chief resigns: Guardian article covering the resignation of Yana Peel whose family has links to Novalpina Capital, a private equity firm that in turn controls a majority stake in NSO Group, a $1bn (£790m) Israeli technology firm whose software has allegedly been used by authoritarian regimes to spy on dissidents
- Liberate Tate: arts pressure group seeking fossil fuel divestment in public arts institutions, specifically Tate (since 2017 Tate no longer receives BP sponsorship)
- On Resigning from the British Museum’s Board of Trustees, Ahdaf Soueif: LRB comment piece on Soueif’s decision to resign from the BM board of trustees, citing ethics over outsourcing of staff, fossil fuel sponsorship, and the repatriation of cultural artefacts
- Explosive ‘Panama Papers’ Highlight Art’s Role in Lives of Tax-Dodging Superrich: artnet news piece reflecting on the what links the Panama Papers exposed between the arts and wealthy people
- A Blade of Grass Fellowship for Socially Engaged Art: supporting courageous artists in creating exchanges, experiences, and structures to enact social change
- Study Links Parental Support and Career Success of Children: research by NC State University (USA) finds that young people who get financial support from their parents have greater professional success, highlighting one way social inequality is transmitted from one generation to the next
- Unconscious bias: information from ACAS about unconscious bias and how to avoid it
- Let’s Change the Rules: New Economics Foundation research and suggestions for policy change to create a more equitable society
- Future’s Venture Foundation: a radical independent art fund established in 2015 to support the work of artists making radical work with an ethical focus
- Empty Cages Collective: prison abolitionist group
- Feminist solidarity empowers everyone. The movement must be trans-inclusive: article by Zoe Williams arguing that since taking the side of the oppressed has long been feminism’s raison d’etre, and amid an explosion of misogyny in public life, compassion and unity are more important than ever
- Time’s finally up for Hollywood’s Lolita complex: the Guardian reflects on #metoo and US film’s representations of women and girls
- Cops Don’t Keep Us Safe: When Survival Is Made Criminal: 10-minute edit of a talk from SWARM’s (Sex Worker Advocacy and Resistance Movement) 2019 festival connects the organisation of sex worker rights with broader social justice struggles. PDF of the full transcript of the longer panel discussion. Via ICA Daily
- Sisters Uncut: taking direct action for domestic violence services