Black Lives Matter – Part 2
Last week the Whitworth issued messages of support for the Black Lives Matter movement. As a public art gallery it felt vital to demonstrate solidarity with anti-racist protests happening around the world. Quite rightly, these symbolic statements were called out on social media for lack of commitment to practical action.
Through our exhibitions, staff training, health programmes, public projects, policies and partnerships we have been working to actively challenge established narratives and denounce the racist rhetoric that has no place in our society. This hasn’t been enough – we need to do more, and faster.
In a staff meeting on Monday we discussed this call for action and agreed that we need to make the serious and considered response this urgency demands. This will have to happen in a deep and sustained way and be done collectively and in co-operation – it needs to be an open conversation.
In some also ways this is a good moment to reboot, during lockdown, to reflect deeply and look at how we might do better, what we might do to improve in our working practices and programmes so that when we re-open we have a clearer pathway to being a gallery that works for the widest number of people in the most meaningful and positive ways. This will be a longer process that we can only start from here, but we have a plan for making this happen.
1. This week we are pausing our social media output to take time to think, listen and reflect.
2. From 15 June we will hold an all-staff session to listen to the many voices in the gallery and use social media to share the resources and tools that will help us in this process.
3. From 22 June we will continue our internal meetings and conversations and begin an open and discursive conversation online followed by an announcement for the following week of an online public programme.
4. From 29 June we will hold a week of public conversations, listening to criticism, inviting suggestions, connecting across all our work with open zooms, podcasts, and working on our family resources, policies, content, age friendly work, health and social projects.
At the end of this period, and in the months to come, we will build on this work with concrete actions that demonstrate our commitment to being actively anti-racist. In doing this work, we will be reaching out to other cultural organisations to support real change across the sector.
Alistair Hudson, Director, the Whitworth and Manchester Art Gallery
Image credit: Sculpture at the Whitworth by artist Anya Gallaccio, lit purple in memory of George Floyd and in solidarity with anti-racism protests around the world. Anya Gallaccio, Untitled (2016), Whitworth Park. Photograph: copyright Nick Todd, DBN Audile, June 2020. Illuminations: DBN Audile.