Heart of Glass
Anti-racism action plan (live document) July 2020
As a community focused arts organisation committed to social justice, the global events of the past few months have further highlighted the explicit racism and structural inequalities that are prevalent in every area of our lives and society. It has strengthened our resolve to do more and do better. We've been reading, listening and reflecting, and we know that action is needed for change. We can and must do more to tackle racism as an organisation. The Heart of Glass staff team and Board is working on strategies and actions to create a more diverse workforce, reaffirm our mission and values within our operations as well as our programme and to reflect critically on our work, and to continue to develop as an organisation that is representative and equitable.
We wish to build upon our commitment as an organisation to support and amplify the voices of Black artists, professionals and communities, within our work, organisation and our practice. We are accountable for dismantling systemic racism, and it is our responsibility to encourage others to do the same.
This action plan is not a new initiative, nor is it time limited, it is an expression of who we are, and why we are as an organisation. We will be endeavouring to make our work around access, inclusion and equity much more transparent in the future. We wish to do this in order to be held accountable and be active accomplice in the dismantling of systemic racism. We will update this document a minimum of twice yearly, and we will introduce new commitments and actions, as well as report on the changes we've made and the learning we’ve uncovered.
This document is an articulation of a process that is transparent and holds us accountable rather than a statement.
Since our inception as a project in 2014 and latterly an organisation and charity in 2016 we have unequivocally stated our commitment to representing and championing difference and diversity across all aspects of our programme – from our artistic and professional development programmes to our collaborations with artists and communities and across all of our publishing efforts. Our first organisational strategy titled A Modest Proposal was published in 2016 and in that we stated our commitment to diversity, cultural democracy and the rights of everyone to be part of the making of meaning through artistic and cultural practice.
Our organisational practice and mission focuses on collaborative and social arts practice - supporting artists and communities to make work together. The history of this field of practice is long and varied but is firmly rooted in movements that emerged in opposition to ‘mainstream’ arts practices. The shoulders we stand upon, from where we draw influence, inspiration and knowledge is work that was and is inclusive and politicised, and work that looks to social justice for validation and is inextricably linked to civil rights movements throughout history. We are committed to intersectionality, and the study of intersectional theory, as a central driver of our artistic practices and ambitions. As we have stated in many of our publications and strategies, we wish to work in solidarity.
In our home in St Helens, we have made work against the backdrop of the capitalist, neo- liberal, ableist, heteronormative, patriarchal and racist structures that grip tightly to our experience of contemporary society. This work has sought to imagine new ways of being and highlight the many and varied democratic deficits experienced across our communities. We aim for all of our projects to be radical spaces of imagination and action.
We have been reflecting on our voice, our position and our privilege and what action we must take in relation to the Black Lives Matter movement and beyond. Heart of Glass is committed to anti-racism and equality, and we understand that unless we are part of the solution, we remain part of the problem. We wish to work to support the dismantling of the structures of privilege and power that dominate UK culture and recognise that in order to do that we must also examine our own privilege and practices and so it is critical that we are clear about our actions as an organisation.
The following list of actions is not an exhaustive list but instead supports our continued objective to be an organisation that “does the work” and makes work that is political, purposeful and relevant, supporting and amplifying the voices of Black artists, professionals and communities, within our work, organisation and our practice. They will be reviewed Annually by Trustees, and twice yearly by Staff Team and Senior Management. We will publish a report based on our success and/or failure to achieve actions as part of our annual review.
Appointment of Toki Allison
As Diversity & Access Critical Friend, Toki Allison, (appointed in March 2020) is working with us to review some key areas of the organisation including Recruitment, Board Representation, Marketing and Digital Audiences.
Staff Recruitment & Retention
While we work with a diverse range of partners, artists and Trustees, including Black and Indigenous folx and people of colour, we acknowledge our core staff team is white. A white workforce is something that perpetuates racial inequalities and excludes the organisation of people of colour. We are aware this is a failure of the organisation and this is something we have attempted to address in past recruitment cycles, but we need to do more. We are working with our Diversity & Access Critical Friend, Toki Allison to support us to continue to develop our staff recruitment strategies to ensure that we support a diverse range of candidates to access these opportunities. This full review is underway and will address hidden barriers, where we advertise our opportunities and other strategies to ensure we are able to build a diverse workforce. We will publish this new policy November 2020.
We are also scoping a new approach to facilitate paid work placements that offer professional development opportunities to our local community in St Helens and early career cultural workers from diverse backgrounds, including creating opportunities for Black individuals.
All Staff Training
We are undertaking a series of all-staff training focused on anti-racism from an intersectional perspective, which will also be made available to Board members and partner organisations, this will include in the first instance:
Identity, Power and Privilege
Following Toki Allison’s appointment, in March 2020, we have begun a process of Board review with Trustees. This includes a skills audit, refresh of terms of length of service as well as future recruitment strategies. This review will prioritise diverse representation at Board level and on-going critical discourse in relation to diversity and anti-racism.
We will facilitate all-staff and all-board dialogues at our annual Board/Staff Away Day in February 2021. The focus of these discussions will be on our organisational responsibility, public position, and what our commitments mean in terms of action and also in terms of resources and support. We will also explore how we document our learning and the actions which emerge and/or the practices we change through these processes. In the first instance these developments will be captured and evidenced through our annual survey reporting as per the conditions of our Arts Council England National Portfolio funding but we will actively explore other ways in which to hold ourselves accountable with our Critical Friend, so that we can make our actions tangible, our successes and/or failures transparent and ultimately be held to account for our actions or inactions.
Board & Staff Reading List
We have shared an all staff and board non-exhaustive reading list (the current list is available at the bottom of this document) and we will continue to add into the future to encourage an on-going process of critical reflection and learning. This ‘reading list’ will include books, critical texts, podcasts and videos and will aim to enshrine a base line of shared references to expand our understanding of issues of racism, class, colonialism, disability, mental health, feminism, LBGTQ+, care and mutual aid. Whilst the reading list is not mandatory, it is strongly encouraged as a starting point in a continued journey of collective and individual responsibility and understanding.
We are delighted to have received support from Jerwood Foundation to create a new 12 month fellowship job role within the organisation. The role will be for a Writer in Residence and will embed and connect with our organisational development and programme. This is a role that will be for a Black individual. We are currently exploring the support structures that we need to put in place in order for this individual to enter into an all-white work space. This package of support will be articulated clearly in the recruitment material for this fellowship, but an offer to enhance and develop this support package in a bespoke manner will also be clearly stated.
Whilst we are prohibited from making organisational donations due to our Charity Status, we have shared links with staff and audiences and encouraged donations where possible for individuals to support direct action globally. We will continue to share these opportunities within our organisation and organisational reach. We will also continue to ‘resource share’ and explore productive ways to do this so that we can lend our organisational voice, time and capacity to the BLM movement.
We are committed to continuing to address issues related to racism, sexism, ableism, homophobia and class in all of our projects. We will continue to create a programme that reflects a range of artists, interests, cultures and creative practice from our community and the wider world we inhabit. Our commitment to co-production throughout our programme explicitly states our commitment to broadening participation in the arts and we will further explore how we can amplify even more Black voices through our artistic programme. It is important for us to state that Black voices are not required or expected to only reflect on Black matters.
As a result of our training and enhanced dialogue at a staff and Board level, we will write, publish and implement an anti-racism policy to be reviewed annually. This policy will be completed and adopted by November 2020. It will focus on governance and leadership; recruitment, training and retention; programming, marketing, participation and audiences.
Episode 2 of our most recent conference With For About 2020 was dedicated to all Black and Indigenous folx and people of colour who are fighting systemic and institutional racism. Various resources were shared to accompany this episode. These resources were compiled by Curator and Host Cecilia Wee, who worked with Co-Curator James Leadbitter on With For About 2020. This reading list can be found at withforabout.com
Building a Multi-Ethnic, Inclusive & Antiracist Organization: https://www.safehousealliance.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/Tools-for-Liberation-Packet- SPAN.pdf
A white institutions guide to welcoming artists of colour and their audiences http://www.galeriegalerieweb.com/wp- content/uploads/2020/05/pullout_eunicebélidor_2020.pdf
Podcast series, Intersectionality Matters: https://aapf.org/all-episodes
Please also check the comprehensive reading list put together by Curator Cecilia Wee as part of With For About 2020:
A list of Anti-Racism resources compiled by Sarah Sophie Flicker, Alyssa Klein in May 2020: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1BRlF2_zhNe86SGgHa6-VlBO- QgirITwCTugSfKie5Fs/edit?usp=drivesdk
A list of anti-racism resources compiled by Louise Hardman: https://docs.google.com/docume... w/edit
Some UK specific resources and suggested actions compiled by @perkin_amalaraj: https://docs.google.com/docume... review?pru=AAABcpjIdjo*OSku1Tv_JoLptq3hwUKjBQ
Me and White Supremacy: How to Recognise your privilege, Combat Racism and Change the World by Layla F. Saad
Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge
Brit(ish): On Race, Identity and Belonging by Afua Hirsch
How to be an Anti-Racist https://www.ibramxkendi.com/how-to-be-an-antiracist-1