Our commitment to being Anti-Racist

Posted on 18/12/2020

In June 2020, our Director Joe Hill made a statement on behalf of Towner Eastbourne outlining our commitment to becoming an actively anti-racist organisation. During the last six months, we took time to learn from our colleagues and peers, and began to understand our roles more fully as individuals and as an organisation to combat racism and drive long-term change. We have started the process of bringing our staff team together to talk about this and determine our pledges as an organisation and we would now like to share progress to date and our plans for the next six months.

We are aware that over the past six months there has been a great deal of discussion around terminology and the problematic nature of many descriptions that have become commonplace, notably BAMEIn recognition of this debate, and drawing on Inc Arts’ #BAMEover survey and statement, we will be using the term ‘people who experience racism’ in our statements and policies concerning diversity and inclusion, whilst also using correct terminology when speaking about specific groups and being mindful of selfdefinitions.  

Since June 2020 we have: 

  • Established a new Diversity Task Group (DTG), including two Trustees, that has met monthly to agree on immediate priorities for turning our June statement into an action plan. This group now report directly to our Board of Trustees, as a standing agenda point in board meetings.
  • Agreed that the immediate priority for the DTG is Towner becoming an actively anti-racist organisation.
  • Agreed three main priority areas of a delivery action plan: internal culture, public and community activity, and speaking out.  
     
  • Reviewed and amended our diversity commitment statement for recruitment purposes, to be used across all future recruitment. 
     
  • Invited Eastbourne Cultural Involvement Group to use Towner spaces for community events and meetings for free. We plan to extend this offer to other local community groups who have common priorities around anti-racism. 
  • Set up a shared resource area for all staff, trustees and volunteers to contribute anti-racist reading and other resources.  

 

Our priorities for the next six months are: 

 

Internal culture 

  • Our board, team and volunteers will undertake unconscious bias training togetherStaff with management responsibilities will receive training in inclusive recruitment practice and process. Any new staff members will receive the training within three months of starting employment.
  • Recruitment promotion and interview procedures for all job opportunities will be updated to support our commitment to creating a more inclusive organisational culture. 
  • The Staff Handbook and induction materials will be reviewed and updated reinforcing Towner’s values and diversity commitments, particularly around anti-racism, including expectations of staff conduct. 
     
  • We will continue to grow the enrichment programme of resources, toolkits and reading lists for trustees, team and volunteers to inform and self-educate on racism and other barriers to progression such as gender, disability and socio-economic background, and to understand the importance and benefits of a diverse and inclusive workplace and society. Once we can meet in person safely, we will hold a staff forum with subsequent regular roundtables for open and honest discussion on the impact of racism, our own experiences in becoming anti-racist and other issues of exclusion. 
     
  • We will create better channels of communication between the Diversity Task Group and the wider team to gather ideas and suggestions and to share the work of the group more widely. The DTG will be expanded to include representatives from across the organisation and in time, we will also invite external voices into the group. 
  • We will collect and collate data around the composition of the board, staff, and volunteer teams to benchmark progress in becoming a diverse and inclusive organisation, and to inform decisions around hiring and career development. 

Public and community activity 

  • We will amplify underrepresented voices through the artists we collaborate with and whose work we presentwith an increased commitment to programming and supporting the development of work by artists who experience racism.  
     
  • Our programming team will undertake an audit of the opportunities we provide for artists and creative practitioners.  
     
  • Diversity and Inclusion will be a standing agenda point in our programming meetings to ensure that we continue to explore the opportunities we are offering and hold ourselves to account.  
  • We will strengthen our processes and monitoring measures for our exhibitions and collection to benchmark the diversity of artists represented in our exhibitions and whose works are acquired into our collection. 
     
  • We will actively promote the regular availability of Towner’s spaces for community groups working towards an anti-racist agenda to meet and hold events for free.  
     
  • We will identify and reach out to community and sectoral partners who will challenge and inform our thinking and support the delivery of our action plan. 

Speaking out 

  • We will publish data collected regarding board and team composition, and public and community programme for review and discussion and in order that Towner is a transparent entity accountable for its actions.
  • We believe in the power of influence and therefore will require our suppliers and contractors to commit to our standards and values which are articulated in our procurement and contractual documents. 
     
  •  We will work towards ensuring that our marketing and promotional materials are reflective of a diverse British society and represent Towner as a welcoming and inclusive organisation. 
     
  • We will review our gift acceptance and ethics policies to ensure that they are reflective of our anti-racist principles. 
     

In our initial statement, we also made a commitment to hold a public forum examining the impact of racism on the town’s residents. We feel strongly that this should take place in person, rather than on a digital platform, and therefore will host this event as soon as it is safe to do so in 2021. 

We remain committed to making Towner an actively anti-racist gallery and acting as a leader in the journey towards making Eastbourne and Sussex inclusive and welcoming destinations for everybody to live, work and visit. As always, we know that we won’t get everything right immediately and that we still have much to learn. We welcome feedback on the steps we have laid out in this statement.  You can contact us via towner@townereastbourne.org.uk