Posted Jul 2020 and updated Nov 2021
In July 2020, we issued the following statement and anti-racism action plan in response to the murder of George Floyd. The action plan now includes updates on the progress we have made (in italics below).
The shocking murder of George Floyd, and subsequent events globally, triggered a profound moment where we were all challenged to consider our part in the Black Lives Matter agenda, and to act to oppose structural racism in society, in the sector, and in the gallery. A particularly corrosive form of racism is part of every black person’s lived experience in Cornwall, and for this to change requires all of us to work together. As an organisation, a first step is recognising, naming and addressing our own failings. The vast majority of staff and volunteers are white, as are all of our management team and Trustees. That must change.
Moving forward we want to commit to actions, and to hold ourselves to account if we fail to make the progress we promise. In the short-term, we have identified five actions:
- Between now and October 2020, we will shape our plans to challenge structural racism. We will share much of this research and discussion with our audiences, to help us move forward on the issue together. A series of talks and discussions associated with our current programme will be announced soon.
As part of this work, in August 2020, we delivered a public webinar exploring Black History in Cornwall. A recording of that session, attended by more than 400 viewers, can be watched here.
- By October 2020 we will have explored funding opportunities, with the aim of appointing staff members from black or minority ethnic backgrounds to our team.
In September 2020, we were offered funding by Arts Council England to support the creation of a fixed-term, senior level appointment, with the aim of recruiting a Black or ethnically diverse appointee. The position was advertised in November 2020, but attracted only a small pool of applicants. We went on to appoint diverse recruitment specialists Green Park to support us in that goal through a second recruitment. In spite of completely restructuring our recruitment approach, we still we unable to appoint due to a low number of applications. In September 2021, Arts Council England agreed for us to use the funding to extend two existing fixed-term positions held by diverse employees on our team, with intersecting protected characteristics including disability and sexual orientation. We continue to trial new recruitment, employment and interview approaches to attract diverse candidates to work in our organisation.
- By January 2021 we aim to address the lack of representation by black people on our Board, not in the expectation that they will carry the responsibility for our work on anti-racism, but because, they will help us become a better organisation.
In autumn 2021, we embarked on an open Trustee recruitment process, applying much of what we have learnt for our work with consultants Green Park. As a result we have appointed six new at our November AGM, enabling us to improve diverse representation at our most senior level. However, our new board still does not include representation by black and ethnically diverse people. We will continue to work to achieve this objective.
In November, the new cohort of Trustees and the staffing team undertook anti-racism training delivered by Black Voices Cornwall. Further training will follow.
- We will work harder to influence change across the arts and cultural sector locally and nationally, working with our networks and partnerships to help achieve wider systemic change.
We have shared our experiences and learning from our recent recruitment process with peer organisation. Our Director is working with peers through the Plus Tate network to support the cohort of 36 organisations to improve their recruitment practices to support diverse recruitment.
New Actions for 2021/22.
- To continue our anti-racism work, we have invited Black Voices Cornwall to curate their second project with us. This will be a main gallery exhibition at The Exchange from February 2022, curated by Abi Hutchinson.
If you feel that in any way you can help us make the progress we are planning, please contact James Green, Director of Newlyn Art Gallery & The Exchange.