COoLand arts and culture organisations from outside the membership was proud to announce its involvement in the development and launch of an arts and culture Race Equality Manifesto in May 2023. Now, signed by almost 30 organisations, it demonstrates an attempt by the arts and culture sector, hand-in-hand with supoprt from the local combined authority, to advance opportunities for underrepresented people.

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Manifesto campaign and context

Liverpool arts & culture Race Equality Manifesto combat racism - "We Are Here"Liverpool’s arts organisations, large and small, have worked collectively to provide a set of principles and a plan for actively promoting greater race equality across Liverpool’s arts and culture sector (shown below).

Galvanized by the Black Lives Matter movement and catalysed by the murder of George Floyd, the members of two consortia (Creative Organisations of Liverpool (COoL) and Liverpool Arts Regeneration Consortium (LARC), with someadditional signatories) have developed a Race Equality Manifesto.

The Manifesto anchors its campaign in changing our organisations’ workforces and governance, the work we do with artists and the audiences we engage with.

Amina Attiq portraitThe launch event was an opportunity to hear from some of those directly involved in spearheading the manifesto, whilst a recent event (June 2024) allowed signatories to feedback on how far they had come.

* I Am Not Okay is a film from Tmesis Theatre and First Take. It looks at Buster Nugent’s protest, at Liverpool’s Princes Park Gates, following the violet murder of George Floyd.

Our launch andgeneral stance takes on a ‘We Are Here’ response, as demonstrated in the film.

 

The Manifesto statement, and its accompanying set of pledges, accompanies this press release (below).

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Manifesto signatories

Signatories (to date, updated 1 July 2024) include:

  • BlackFest LTD
  • Bluecoat Display Centre
  • Brazuka International (Katumba Drumming and Movement)
  • Collective Encounters
  • Dadafest
  • FACT Liverpool
  • First Take Video Limited
  • Lantern Company
  • Liverpool Arab Arts Festival
  • Liverpool Biennial
  • Liverpool Everyman & Playhouse
  • Liverpool Irish Festival
  • Liverpool’s Royal Court
  • Metal Culture Ltd
  • Movema
  • National Museums Liverpool
  • One Latin Culture Ltd trading as LUMA CREATIONS
  • Open Culture CIC
  • Open Eye Gallery
  • Pagoda Arts
  • Paperwork Theatre
  • Royal Liverpool Philharmonic
  • Squash Liverpool
  • Tate Liverpool
  • The Bluecoat
  • The Windows Project
  • Tmesis Theatre
  • Unity Theatre Ltd
  • University of Liverpool, for The Tung Auditorium and Libraries, Museums and Galleries.

Launched in collaboration with WOWFest, as part of its 2023 programme, the original launch event was supported by the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority Race Equality Hub. Lorna Rogers, the Assistant Director for Mayoral Programme Delivery at Liverpool City Region Combined Authority said:

“We are committed to support the Race Equality Manifesto working with the cultural sector to ensure underrepresented groups across our diverse communities have access to opportunities, training and support to fulfil their potential.

“In creating the Race Equality Hub, The Combined Authority made the biggest investment to tackle racial inequality in our area’s history. Our diversity is one of our greatest strengths, particularly in the city region’s historically strong arts and culture sector, and we need practical, proactive and positive action to make sure everyone has an equal chance to succeed.”

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Liverpool Arts and Culture Race Equality Manifesto Statement

Download a PDF of the Manifesto here.

As arts and culture organisations in Liverpool City Region, we stand against racism and racial injustice. Hate and discrimination have no home in the arts or anywhere else.

We are committed to redressing the imbalances that exist in our sector, by creating opportunities for, increasing the positive visibility of, and promoting the inclusion of those who experience racism.[1]

We jointly commit to the seven pledges of this Manifesto, in a dynamic campaign that tailors and scales our organisations’ activities to drive change. Collectively, we will support each other to uphold these pledges.

We will annually: review progress and any barriers; share new understanding; apply and review actions and targets set for each pledge; and actively challenge our organisations to stand against racism and racial injustice.

Introduction and background to the Manifesto

The Manifesto is a campaign to drive inclusion and equality in arts and culture, diversify the sector, and speak out against racism. It has been produced collectively by Liverpool Arts Regeneration Consortium (LARC) and Creative Organisations of Liverpool (COoL) to provide a set of principles and a plan for actively promoting greater race equality and diversity through the work we do. This has been developed through a process of internal consultation, inviting external perspectives, and drawing on race equality best practice in the arts. As an evolving document, we welcome further input from others.

The Manifesto consolidates work undertaken since 2020 when we recognised that the police killing of George Floyd was a watershed moment for change. Responding to Black Lives Matter’s calls for action, both consortia acknowledged that racism operates at different levels: individual, structural and institutional; and that change, for us, had to start within. We began therefore to prioritise areas where policy change, new resources, and institutional commitment from trustees, together with buy in from all staff, could be transformative within our organisations.

The Manifesto reflects four priority areas: our workforces and governance; support for artists; developing audiences; and advocacy. Seven pledges are set out in the action plan below. These are baseline pledges that signatories agree to, which are accompanied by more detailed actions and targets that each organisation tailors to meet their specific needs. Each action has an indication of how they will be delivered and a schedule to complete. As a living document, these actions will evolve and be updated, with progress made public. Organisations are encouraged to make use of additional models of race equality best practice, to help implement change and further progress their anti-racist commitments.

Initially for LARC and COoL, the broader ambition is for the Manifesto to provide a blueprint for the wider arts and cultural sector within Liverpool City Region and beyond. Synergies will be sought outside of the sector, for example with community and non-arts organisations committed to racial justice, inclusion and equality.

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Manifesto Action Plan

Pledge 1: To create a more racially diverse workforce across all levels of our organisations, including boards, leadership and contracted workers
  • Action: Organisations aspire to achieve a minimum 15% diverse workforce, working towards this by setting percentage targets each year
  • Timescale: Ongoing.
Pledge 2: To be a bold advocate for race equality, sharing best practice and learning around it in the arts and culture sector
  • Action: Fully embrace and embed race equality and anti-racism action plans within our organisations, monitor and update them regularly, and share externally
  • Timescale: Within first year.
Pledge 3: To celebrate, support and invest in the talent of individual creatives in the City Region who experience racism
  • Action: Aspire to achieve a minimum 20% of work in our programmes to be produced or created by those creatives who experience racism, setting targets for percentage improvement each year
  • Timescale: Within two years.
Pledge 4: To diversify our audiences
  • Action: Ensure anti-racism training across each organisation, and that audience-facing staff have training in inclusive behaviour towards audiences
  • Timescale: Within first year.
Pledge 5: To invest in resources for increasing race equality across our work
  • Action: Allocate an annual percentage of budget to work that invests in and promotes race equity, this to be increased incrementally as progress is reviewed annually
  • Timescale: Within first year.
Pledge 6: To monitor and evaluate these pledges
  • Action: Manifesto signatories to share progress made against each pledge annually, and publish a collective review
  • Timescale: Annually.
Pledge 7: To build alliances within and beyond the arts and culture sector
  • Action: Create partnerships with organisations across our business and production needs who are committed to race equality, and embed cross-pollination of practice and ideas
  • Timescale: Ongoing.

Download a PDF of the Manifesto here.

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Notes to Editors

Further information on the launch: Madeline Heneghan, madeline@writingonthewall.org.uk
Further information on the Manifesto or the consortia that have developed it: Bryan Biggs, bryan.b@thebluecoat.org.uk

The £3.2m Race Equality Hub was launched by Steve Rotheram, Mayor of the Liverpool City Region, and is the city region’s largest-ever investment in tackling racial inequalities among its work force. As well as providing training and employment support to local people, the Combined Authority has provided financial support towards the Race Equality Manifesto launch and has committed to engage with the ongoing work of the group.

[1] We appreciate that terms relating to difference and self-identification are constantly evolving and, in the words of Stuart Hall, identity is an ‘unfinished conversation’. In this continuing discourse, we have found this particularly useful: #BAMEOver – A Statement for the UK (google.com)