Anti-Racism: Statement, Responses, Resources

Last Updated: 13 June 2022

Anti-Racism Statement - progress

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 making meaningful organisational changes and to help effect change at a wider level. This plan will be shaped by all staff. This page outlines progress so far against our commitments.

Our commitments and progress:

1. Providing mandatory training for staff and trustees
Status update: First round of training is complete.

In mid-2021, a group of staff, including members of the Safe Spaces group, a space for staff from ethnically diverse cultural backgrounds with lived experience of racism, met regularly to write a brief and to short-list and appoint a provider. It was agreed that ARE (formerly BTEG) could best fulfil our needs and have been appointed to work with us long-term. In January 2022, ARE delivered three training sessions for staff, one for trustees, and one listening session for members of the team with lived experiences of racism. In these sessions, the team were encouraged to provide areas where they would like to see improvement. Three key focuses fed back from the team were: structure and accountabilities; HR processes; and internal communications. To support the process of addressing this feedback, ARE and HR Assured are supporting the development of an action plan with members of the team, managers and trustees.

In addition, over the course of the next year ARE will deliver a series of 'insight sessions' focusing on some of the subject areas fed back from the initial training.

2. Setting aspirational targets for board appointments and using positive action to broaden the diversity of our candidate pool.
Status update: Ongoing
We commit to making all future board appointments by open call to ensure a more transparent process. In autumn 2020 we appointed two new board members via open call. We have developed targets to ensure our staff and leadership teams are representative of the communities we serve by 2026.

3. Allocate space and resources to community organisations and non-profit groups
Status update: In progress
We are in the process of making our multi-use project space, Gallery Zero available, free of charge, to individuals and community organisations, prioritising those who are under-represented in museums and galleries, and are also keen to hear from those working outside of the arts.

4. Revise recruitment policies
Status update: This is ongoing work overseen by a staff group
A staff group have been working together to develop our approach. They have developed a welcome statement, widened our recruitment networks, developed open sessions for potential applicants, anonymised shortlisting to reduce bias, removed the requirement to show qualifications from application forms and explored alternative formats. They are also collecting monitoring data in real-time to shape practice and to help us be more accountable.

5. Create a safe and supportive environment for all of our team, collaborators and audiences
Status update: Consultancy report delivered, action plan in development
Over the Summer we invited Goss Consulting to deliver a Critical Friend Consultancy on Disability policy, Practice & Procedure. This involved discussions with staff members from all teams. Actions arising from the recommendations of this report are being delivered throughout 2022.

6. Develop a trainee scheme focused on those least represented in our field.
Status update: In progress
We are in conversation with organisations across the region, exploring different models.

In the meantime, we are developing approaches to programming and exhibition-making that involve young people and extend our ‘workforce’ via paid briefs, residencies, commissions, placements and partnerships.

7. Continue to use our own platforms to publish tools and resources.
Status update: See below for resources and tools

A Response

On 13 July 2020, 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. We have now published an open call for two new board members.

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.

As before, we pledge to listen, learn, campaign and act. We hope to do so with openness, accountability and effectiveness.

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