Last year we shared a statement to express our support for and solidarity with Black people and communities everywhere in the fight against racism in all its forms.
We remain committed to a process of reading, listening, learning and discussion, as well as delivering against the set of actions that we as an organisation agreed to last year.
We committed to:-
• Set aside funds to provide annual training for staff at all levels on Unconscious Bias and understanding Intersectionality in order to build approaches to inclusive practice and equity in everything we do.
This has been challenging within the context of the pandemic however all Metal staff successfully engaged in allyship and unconscious bias training.
• Create a staff reading list from the many book titles that have been shared over the last week as vital reading. Every six weeks, we will host a staff discussion about one of these books to share opinions and insights.
There was a genuine commitment from staff to use the opportunity to develop new perspectives and gain insights into the experiences of people of colour and wider intersectionalities. Selected texts, read and discussed, included: Why I’m no longer talking to white people about race by Reni Eddo-Lodge; Natives: Race and Class in the Ruins of Empire by Akala; and Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo.
This reading group will continue in 2021 and beyond, informally and with formal discussion meetings.
We recognise that the issue of representation within our workforce is critical and we need to work harder to establish new models of leadership and governance that grow from innovative and inclusive practice and dialogue. We commit to:-
• As a matter of priority, examine our recruitment procedures
• Consult on our organisational language to understand better what barriers we may, unconsciously, be creating.
• Work towards providing paid work placements and training opportunities for young people, and/or those who want to re-train, to remove the affordability barrier that disproportionately affects People of Colour from participation in gaining work experience in the cultural sector.
• Work hard to create opportunities to make our staff team and the freelance creatives we contract, more representative of the communities in which we work.
In response to these aims we have overhauled our recruitment processes from trustee level down, resulting is high levels of visibility and engagement from applicants of colour for each of the opportunities we presented over the past year. This has included new approaches to advertising and the spreading of word through alternative networks.
This process is set to continue with diversity high on our agenda for our three upcoming Kickstarter programme placements that we will host in 2021/22.
We understand that as an organisation funded through public sector agencies we have a responsibility to ensure we use our platforms in an open, accessible and transparent way that is welcoming and hospitable for all. We commit to:-
• Hold ourselves accountable and listen.
• Be open to criticism when we get things wrong, learn from our mistakes, and take action to change
• Embed ways of working within our team that enables and encourages both analysis and action.
• Review our Organisational Policies to ensure we are explicit within them about our intended actions towards contributing to the dismantling and eradication of institutional and societal racism.
• Bear in mind the intersectional nature of equality across all our policies.
Any approaches to Metal have been followed-up with individuals and/or organisations in order to better understand the first-hand experiences of those people who experience racism, and to directly address operational or policy gaps that may lead to any form of discrimination or abuse.
• Re-examine our methods for deciding on creative programme and curatorial starting points.
• Invest in and support content that centres the experience of People of Colour by:-
a) supporting the artists and creatives who are already doing this work.
b) seeking active partnerships
c) commissioning new work
d) providing in-kind access to our venues and equipment
e) sharing the work of others across our social media platforms
Metal has a long history of working with diverse creative associates and producers.
In the past year we have given a great deal of consideration to how we develop and curate programmes , with racial equality and diversity a key factor in these decision-making processes. As an example, during 2020 we looked again at the curatorial voices within Estuary 2021 and how programme was being shaped.
• Host and engage in conversation with artists, audiences and our local communities.
We look forward to resuming our in-person programmes of engagement and dialogue later this year through our core programme of community and artist dinners. Through these we hope to gain further insights into how our work can have a more meaningful impact in each of our three national locations.
Again, we would like to thank all those artists, curators and creative practitioners who have taken the time to write to us in pursuit of greater racial equality. You have provided insight, feedback and ideas for how we at Metal – and the cultural sector as a whole – can do better, work harder and act faster.