Anti Racism Plan
Agreed by the Board of Trustees, 23 November 2020
In June 2020, we made a public statement expressing our stand against racial injustice and oppression.
The staff and Trustees of Pallant House Gallery stand in solidarity with the Black community and with all who oppose racism and discrimination. Recent events have encouraged us to reflect on our role as a cultural organisation and how we can better represent modern Britain.
Pallant House Gallery exists to explore new perspectives on British art from 1900 to now. It is our role to expand, question and explore the parameters that define Modern British art so that our exhibitions and programmes are always relevant, rigorous and inclusive.
We acknowledge that we have much work to do to ensure our programme and collections, as well as our staff and board, reflect the diversity of the society in which we live. We are committed to making Pallant House Gallery a safe, welcoming and inspiring place for everyone.
However, making statements isn’t enough. We are committed to sustained change in our organisation and by October 2020 we will share a detailed report on the plans we are putting in place to make Pallant House Gallery more representative of Britain’s diversity.
Board, Committees and Advisory Groups:
- We have diversified the board, and are actively seeking to diversify our committees and advisory groups.
- We will be providing peer mentoring by Trustees to encourage those without prior Board experience to put themselves forward for positions on the Board and in Committees and advisory groups.
- Pallant House Gallery will undertake formal unconscious bias training for all staff and Trustees before the end of March 2021. In the meantime, our team and trustees are being actively encouraged to take up online training sessions such as Beyond Statements run by Art Fund and the Dismantling Barriers training run by Cohesion Plus. We intend to follow this with training for our Volunteers during the 2021-22 forward plan.
- We are reviewing our recruitment practices to ensure they are fully inclusive, communicated as widely as possible and are welcoming to ethnic minority groups. For completion by the end of January.
- We are updating our Equality and Diversity Action plan to take into account advice and guidance in the light of the Black Lives Matter movement in 2020.
Representation in the Permanent Collection:
- We are reviewing our Archive records relating to our collections and historic Queen Anne townhouse built in 1712-13, and its builder Henry Peckham (1683-1764), a wine merchant, for any connections to slavery.
- We are actively seeking to diversify the artists represented in Pallant House Gallery’s permanent collection. The Gallery’s Collections Development Policy has been updated to include the following wording: “Through selective acquisition we will continue to work to increase the diversity of our collection, focusing on identity, race and representation and finding new opportunities to amplify the voices and creativity of under-represented artists and address omissions in our holdings to enable new and critical reinterpretations of our collection and ensure that we can present a narrative of British art from a contemporary perspective that is representative of the wider community.” This was formally approved by the Board of Trustees at the December 2020 meeting.
- This work will be supported by the appointment of a new advisor from a Black, Asian or ethnic minority background to our Collection and Exhibition Advisory Group.
- During 2020 we have been commissioning new works by artists from Black, Asian and ethnic minority backgrounds which will be unveiled in Spring 2021.
Representation in the Temporary Exhibitions:
- The Glyn Philpot exhibition planned for 2022 will have a significant focus on the representation of black models in British art of the 1920s and 30s. An advisory group has been formed to consult on the questions of race and gender including artists and academics of colour. The exhibition publication has received funding from the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art. We are planning a Symposium on black artists and models in Modern British art to be held in conjunction with the exhibition.
- We are commissioning Black, Asian and ethnic minority artists in our future temporary exhibitions programme.
- The Director, Head of Exhibitions and members of the Public Programmes team will oversee a mentoring programme to provide meaningful opportunities for young people from Black, Asian and ethnic minority backgrounds to develop their careers within the art world.
- The Gallery is launching a digital strategy for events and content, which will enable it to reach and engage audiences beyond its immediate locality in West Sussex. As part of this, the Gallery will plan content and events on Black British art.
- The Gallery is seeking to ensure that through its exhibitions, displays and communications strategy, it is perceived as a welcoming place for Black and ethnic minority audiences. In 2018-19 audience data showed that 3% of our visitors were from non-white ethnic groups, and we plan to grow this audience to 5% in 2021-22, equivalent to the wider diversity statistics for our region; and to increase this in subsequent years.
Actions since releasing our Anti-Racism statement in June:
- The Arts Council Diversity Relationship Manager presented to the Board of Trustees in August.
- There have been two extraordinary Board meetings to discuss the Gallery’s Anti-Racism plan and diversification of the Board, which have had full Trustee support and participation.
- Aki Abiola and Mahtab Hussain joined the Board of Trustees in December 2020 and March 2021 respectively.
Staff and Volunteers:
- The Gallery completed an anonymised web-based Equality and Diversity Monitoring Survey for all staff in July, which will form the baseline by which we will measure our future success in diversifying the workforce. This will be followed by anonymised monitoring surveys for the Board, Committees, Advisory Groups and volunteers.
- The Gallery has reviewed its Equal Opportunities Monitoring processes for recruitment and is moving towards an anonymised web-based system to encourage greater take up of reporting. The Gallery will increase analysis of this data in future to understand patterns and barriers to applicants for positions in the arts.
- Books on black art and culture have been purchased for the Gallery’s Art Reference Library to create resources for staff, volunteers, students and researchers.
Collections and Exhibitions:
- We have undertaken an audit of the diversity of the artists represented in the Pallant House Gallery permanent collection of British art, and this has reinforced our commitment to increasing the diversity of the collections, and how ethnic diversity is recorded on our collections database systems to facilitate future planning of collections displays.
- Works by Black artists have been prioritised for conservation and mounting to ensure that they are ready to go on display in future collections displays.
- Two photographs by Black British photographer Joy Gregory were included in the Gallery’s permanent collection displays when it re-opened in August after closure due to covid-19. This was followed by an interview with Gregory on the Gallery blog and social media.
- Works by Chris Ofili, Tai Schan Schierenberg and Anish Kapoor have been donated to the Gallery through the Golder – Thompson Gift.
- A further print by Sonia Boyce has been acquired with funds from the Gallery’s Acquisitions Fund.
Communications and Networks:
- The Gallery has featured a sustained focus on Black British artists in its social media, blogs and e-bulletins, including resources, a quiz on Black British artists as part of the Gallery’s ongoing Friday night quiz programme on Instagram and content specifically for Black History month including a blog on the history of Manet’s model Laure.
- The Gallery was a signatory to the CVAN South East Anti-Racism statement and is working with the network on future steps for arts organisations across the South East region.
This plan will be regularly reviewed by the Board of Trustees and will be updated in line with the Gallery’s Forward Plan and Equality and Diversity Plan.
Resources and further reading
We are committed to educating ourselves on the issues facing the black community today and how we can play a part in changing our sector to be more inclusive.
You can discover some of what we’ve been reading, watching and listening to on our blog.
This is a growing list, which we will continue to add to. It may also be useful to you – please join us in our learning.
Our Director Simon Martin has conducted research into potential historic connections between Pallant House Gallery and the Slave Trade. Click here to download and read.