Culture& welcomes the outpouring of statements from arts and heritage organisations in support of the Black Lives Matter campaign, but wants further action to evidence a real appetite for change. Those organisations that did not make their positions clear need to so now and those that did speak out must back up their sentiments, the charity asserts.
A new 8-point Black Lives Matter Charter, devised in consultation with New Museum School alumni, has now been published by the organisation, detailing the changes necessary for British cultural institutions to “decolonise their relationship with the UK Black community and their workforce, collections and programmes”.
The Black Lives Matter Charter
- The statements of horror about the killing of George Floyd in the U.S. must be followed up by similar statements of support to the UK Black communities in relation to Black people who have died in similar circumstances in Britain
- Support the decolonisation of collections by reinterpreting imperial narratives around objects. Works in museum collections which have been acquired by means of colonial aggression or with the profits of the transatlantic slave trade, must be identified as such, giving clear and explicit information to audiences on their history acquisition, and how they came into the possession of the museum
- Museums must make a commitment to the editing and rewording of racist artwork titles that include racially sensitive words or outdated descriptions of black people which are considered obsolete in the present day
- Where collections or objects have been acquired by force or other means without consent, museums must start the process of restitution and repatriation to their rightful owners, and where museums have profited from the ownership and display of cultural property, they must make proportionate funds available to set up relationships of exchange and cooperation
- Arts and heritage organisations must be publicly accountable via their funders such as Race Equality Action Plans, Arts Council England and DCMS targets for their actions in relation to tackling institutional racism and decolonising their workforce. They should take steps to address subconscious bias and ensure that staff at all levels are representative of the diversity of the UK population
- Arts and heritage organisations must devise programmes that appeal to Black people in our society by commissioning and supporting diverse contemporary curators and artists to make alternative interpretations to address the history and present-day issues around racism, prejudice and social exclusion
- Arts and heritage organisations must take steps to holistically protect the mental health, wellbeing, and lives of their BAME workforce in relation to navigating and challenging racism, and acknowledging stress and trauma where it has occurred
- Arts and heritage organisations must take steps to protect the lives of their Black workforce and audiences who face disproportionate risks relating to COVID-19
“We have all been deeply impacted by the killing of George Floyd in the U.S. which has sparked a vital and long-awaited international conversation around prejudice and inequality. Culture&’s Black Lives Matter Charter aims to turn the global conversation into national action,” explains Dr. Errol Francis, CEO and artistic director of Culture&.
“We hope the Charter will be adopted by our friends, partners and colleagues in the arts and heritage sector, resulting in an industry which is accountable, inclusive and representative of the diversity that abounds in the U.K.”