Anti-Racism: Statement, Responses, Resources

Last Updated: 26 November 2020

Anti-Racism Statement

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.

Our commitments and progress:

1. Providing mandatory training for staff and trustees
Status update: In progress
We commit to deliver an ongoing programme of training, across 3 sessions per year, including all staff plus board representatives. Each session will be devised in consultation with a different team, at Nottingham Contemporary and will be delivered by a different facilitator, educator, artist or activist. Areas of focus that have been put forward so far include unconscious bias, transformative justice, micro-aggressions and colonial legacies. Our team are currently reviewing and selecting training providers.

2. Setting aspirational targets for board appointments and using positive action to broaden the diversity of our candidate pool.
Status update: In progress
We commit to making all future board appointments by open call to ensure a more transparent process. At the beginning of September, we published a call for two new trustees. We are seeking people who can contribute to our ongoing work towards racial justice and in tackling inequalities, and are especially encouraging applications from people of colour and younger people. The call out is now closed, and we have appointed two new board members.

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. The callout for Gallery Zero is here.

4. Revise recruitment policies
Status update: Pending
In recent years we have revised a number of recruitment practices, based on recommendations from the IWG and the employee forum. To revisit and consolidate this work, we may need to engage with independent consultants.

5. Create a safe and supportive environment for all of our team, collaborators and audiences
Status update: In progress
This has been a focus since the summer, particularly with regards to staff wellbeing and internal communications.

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.

7. Continue to use our own platforms to publish tools and resources.
Status update: In progress

A Response

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. 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.