Anti-Racism: Statement, Responses, Resources
Last Updated: 15 July 2020
On 13 July, an open letter was published by staff and former employees, challenging Nottingham Contemporary's anti-racism statement and action plan. Our response is below.
Thank you for taking the time to respond. We hear and understand your frustrations, and welcome the challenges that you voice. We recognise that for Nottingham Contemporary, like so many in our field, this work is long due. Doing this work requires ongoing, difficult and constructive conversations. We stand by our commitment to actual change, which begins with greater transparency around the process.
In terms of actions, a number of points that have been raised are existing priorities, though we haven't acted on them quickly enough. Board development, mandatory training for staff and trustees, recruitment policies, including positive action – all will be acted on by the end of 2020. To give one example, all future trustee appointments will be made via open calls, actively seeking to broaden the perspectives represented at board level. As part of this process, we will be scrutinising current barriers to such roles and seeking to address them. Two open calls will be published in August.
While there are inaccuracies in the open letter, this should not distract from the more important challenges. For more clarity in the future, our communications, internally and externally, will improve. The development and implementation of our anti-racism action plan requires cross-organisational work and dialogue. It is important to us that all staff have opportunities to provide input in a supportive and equitable space, where decision-making is transparent and accountable.
Once Nottingham Contemporary has safely reopened to the public on 4 August, an updated version of the anti-racism action plan, detailing specific areas of work against timelines, will be circulated to all staff for discussion. Zoom calls with small groups will be convened during August and September to facilitate this. For the purposes of transparency, this plan will subsequently be published on our website and circulated internally.
As before, we pledge to listen, learn, campaign and act. We hope to do so with openness, accountability and effectiveness.
We are angered and distraught by ongoing racial injustice and police brutality. We recognise that many of the artists, audiences and communities we work with, as well as those within our own team, are experiencing pain, discrimination and violence. The pandemic has laid bare inequities as well as vulnerabilities of all kinds.
Museums and galleries everywhere are rightfully being called out for their inaction. While denouncing racism and pledging solidarity is a necessary first step, it means little without strategic action. We commit to being an anti-racist institution, to understand what this means both in principle and in practice, and to undertake the work that this demands. We must listen and learn, campaign and act.
With this in mind, Nottingham Contemporary commits to publishing a plan to make meaningful organisational changes and to help effect change at a wider level. This plan will be published when we reopen, and will include:
1. Providing mandatory unconscious bias, anti-racist and transformative justice training for staff and trustees
2. Dedicating time and resources to developing a mentoring scheme focused on those least represented in our field
3. Setting aspirational targets for board appointments and using positive action to broaden the diversity of our candidate pool
4. Using our own platforms to publish tools and resources.
This work will require an active and effortful long-term process of collective learning and organisational change. We will be effective, vocal and accountable.
- UK resources
- How to support black lives in the UK
- Black UK racial justice organisations
- Going to a protest? Know your rights
- Want to write to your MP?
- Demand curriculum reform in the UK
- "Talking About Race", tools and guidance from the National Museum of African American History & Culture
- Jane Elliott, checklist for committing to combat racism
- A critical reading list
- Ibram X. Kendi, "An Anti-Racist Reading List" (2019), New York Times
- Alex S. Vitale, The End of Policing (2017, Verso), free e-book
- Gurminder K. Bhambra, "A Statue Was Toppled. Can We Finally Talk About the British Empire" (2020), New York Times
From Our Archives
- The Bigger Picture Project
- The Place is Here online educational resource
- The October Dialogues 2015: Black Lives Matter
- When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir – Patrisse Khan-Cullors
- Contemporary Conversation: Carceral Continuum with Nadine El-Enany and Nicholas Shapiro
- Louis Henderson, The ensemble of the senses and the ensemble of the social, The Contemporary Journal 3 (June 2020)
- Ramon Amaro, Speculative Power and the Distributive Terms of Black Survival, The Contemporary Journal 2 (January 2020)
This is a growing list of resources. Everything here has been important to us, to our work and to our thinking. Please help us add to this growing list by sending suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org.