BLACK LIVES MATTER
As an organisation, we have been following the BLACK LIVES MATTER movement and we know that we must use our platform to be actively anti-racist now more than ever. Systemic racism is prevalent within many British Art Institutions and Galleries - although Black artists and creatives may be represented on the surface, as many art professionals have pointed out, the leadership teams behind the scenes remain predominantly white. We continue to reflect on this and are determined to dedicate our resources to what we can do in the long-term to support Black creatives in Cornwall and within our organisation.
As a not-for-profit community art space, we want to confront the ‘glass ceiling’ in the arts sector and make more room for Black voices and creatives within all of our events, exhibitions and long-term leadership. We recognise our responsibility to become an accessible space which uplifts and represents the Black community in Cornwall.
EVENTS AND EXHIBITIONS
The Fish Factory has hosted celebrations annually for BHM for many years in the past, but we realise Black history shouldn’t be exclusive to October. As an essential part of our shared global history which informs and enriches our present, Black history and creativity will be amplified across a larger programme of events to span the entire year and for many years to come. This does not undermine the importance of Black History Month events and how much there is to learn and share.
Here are some of our plans;
● We want it to be known that our space is available to Black and Brown creatives and artists for exhibitions and events but also for private functions and meetings. We want the Fish Factory to be a safe and accessible space.
● We have received training in “How to be Actively Anti-racist*” as a team. However, this is only the beginning of our journey and we will be following up what we have learned with more training sessions, ongoing discussion and the sharing of resources within our organisation and with our community. This also means we need to look at how our team has grown and how we can make space for diversity both within our residing artists, and the crew that runs the space.
● We will help to facilitate anti-racist initiatives by offering a platform for the sharing of ideas, raising awareness and fundraising. We will make our networks and advice available to anyone with questions or queries about leading events.
● We will not expect artists of colour to carry out the labour of educating people or making our space more diverse. We are here to serve the community and it is our responsibility to give artists of colour in the south-west a platform for expression if and when they want it, not at our demand.
● In the instance of us commissioning artists or approaching people to speak or perform in the space we will make sure they are paid properly for their time and work and that they are paid promptly. This means upholding clear communication about what we are asking from the start of a project.
● In light of COVID-19, we are also able to offer/ help to facilitate online exhibitions and virtual events for anyone who is shielding or who lives outside of Cornwall or beyond Penryn.
● We are open to ideas, suggestions and feedback.
As Maya Angelou once said “Do the best you can until you know better. And when you know better, do better.” These initiatives will develop over time and will endure long into our future as an arts space. At the Fish Factory we pledge to support Black voices within the arts in Cornwall because BLACK LIVES MATTER.
* The training we received was delivered by Black Voices Cornwall. BVC offer training, advice and support to organisations and individuals who would like to become actively anti-racist.
Black Voices Cornwall - An organisation dedicated to anti-racism in Cornwall, collaborating, innovating and working to create a better county for the Black-Cornish community.
Black History Library created by Charles Peston.
Dismantling Racism Dr Works Book - historical resources to interrogate the sources of systemic racism.
Black History Bootleg - co-directed and organised by Rob Burns, long-term friend of the Fish and activist for civil rights.
Building Bridges - initiative from Cornwall Council to support cultural events and anti-racist work.
Hypocrisy, Fake Solidarity and Glass Ceilings, by Teanne Andrews - an insightful article and important reminder that equality is most essential in leadership.
Gal-dem - "an online and print publication committed to sharing perspectives from women and non-binary people of colour"
Inquest - a charity fighting for social justice to protect the BAME community.
Although the government has responded to this petition, it's still available as an open petition as the volume of signatures has prompted further inquiry. Sign it and other petitions to UK government. Click here to get writing to your MP.
AIR Collective UK - Against Institutional Racism (AIR) - this black history month, AIR Collective have organised a 31 Day Challenge. Learn about Black History Everyday.