Like many others, we were horrified by the recent murder of George Floyd in Minnesota; the murder of Armaud Arbery in Georgia; the murder of Breonna Taylor in Kentucky; the countless murders, suffering and premature deaths of many other Black people and people of colour in history before them. Today that horror is renewed yet again, by the murder of Rayshard Brooks in Georgia.
This is not solely an American problem. We remain angry, upset and bewildered by the depths of institutionalised racism – and the overt racism – that takes place in this country, where the colour of your skin can impact your life chances from the moment you are born.
This has to change.
Black Lives Matter.
Black lives have always mattered.
We stand against racism.
We commit to realising a vision of a just world.
We will support the fight against racism every day. We hope that one day, soon, we will live in a fair, just world, where every life and culture has equal value. Where a statement so fundamental, and so obvious, as “Black Lives Matter” will be redundant.
We believe that Black history should be studied in the school curriculum, well beyond colonialism, well beyond the horrors of the slave trade. We believe that works by Black authors and creators should be embedded in our cultural landscape, to be enjoyed and celebrated by all.
At this point, we want to highlight the work of our associate Michaela Yearwood-Dan, whose art explores themes of class, culture and race, alongside nature, love and loss. You can find examples of her work here – michaelayearwood-dan.com. Over the next few weeks, we’ll also highlight some of the inspirational work by other Black artists, including members of our team.
As employers, partners and leaders in the arts, we commit to promoting equality and celebrating diversity within our team. We seek out stories and experiences from all who we work with, and we learn from them. This has always been important to us, and it always will be.
We’re mindful of embodying tokenism with a statement like this, but we also understand how important it is that we add our voices, and how urgently every voice must be counted. Racism is everybody’s problem.
We know that, as a small company led by two white people in the arts, we benefit from all the implicitly racist systems and structures that surround us, and that our privileges will sometimes hide this reality from us. We understand we may not always get things 100% right.
We know can always do better, and we will, by taking action every day, by building and reinforcing organisational systems that encourage greater diversity and equality of experience for everyone we work with.
We work with young people. We strive to inspire and educate a new generation of filmmakers and we believe they should follow through their creative passion with inclusivity at the forefront. We offer them a space to share their ideas and provide space for them to develop their own stories. We believe in the incredible power that stories have to change minds and to change the world.
“If one is lucky, a solitary fantasy can totally transform a million realities.”
We teach our students values of fairness, equality and inclusion. We teach them that everyone has a voice and everyone has space to contribute, regardless of any of the things that make us different. We teach them to embrace and celebrate difference. We hope that they enjoy a world better than the one we inherited. This is what drives us.
There is always more we can do.
As first steps, we plan to embed anti-racism training into our induction training schemes, to ensure our anti-racist beliefs are lived out by our team members at every level. We’ll also be reviewing our Widening Participation strategies and seeking out ways to remove barriers and to encourage greater participation from young people who are not currently well represented in our membership. In particular this includes young Black women.
We’ll also seek to more actively promote diversity through our website, and we’ll share more details on the community work we do by highlighting this more regularly on our website, blog and social media.
This is not solely a statement of the moment. It takes into account the journey so far, and how much there is still to do. It’s a marker, for us to reflect on in the weeks to come, in the years to come, of how we plan to help shape a better world for tomorrow.