Two Queens Social Justice and Anti-Racism commitment
Two Queens is making a commitment to the cause of social justice and anti-racism. The need to make this commitment explicit has been prompted by Black Lives Matter’s activities during 2020 following the murder of George Floyd, and the institutional critiques emerging from the movement, for which we are thankful for the prompt to recognise that we can do more to formally commit to issues of anti-racism and social justice in our work. Recent events have made it clear that silence on these matters is not excusable, and that all individuals, communities and organisations should make their commitments clear. Furthermore, that if we do not actively implement additional anti-racist practices into our ways of working we may unwillingly replicate systemic racism inherited from the wider sector. This initial commitment has been drafted through discussion between our small staff team and will be distributed for further contribution and discussion from our members, studio holders, audiences and associate artists, remaining a work in progress.
This statement is first and foremost a commitment to actively combat systemic racism, which we believe exists throughout our society with art galleries and museums as no exception. Art institutions have for too long exhibited a moral ambivalence in their programming policies, employment practices and relationships with funders. Many galleries whose programmes appear socially conscious have been guilty of failing to practice what they preach. Two Queens recognises the role that we can play in public education through our programme as well as setting an example for other kinds of institution through the ways we choose to operate.
In choosing to make a wider commitment to Social Justice, we don’t wish to diminish the utmost importance and urgency of addressing racial injustice in the present moment. The notions of Equality and Diversity are not sufficient in isolation – in recent history these terms have operated as empty gestures, allowing a myth of meritocracy to be propagated within institutions whose discriminatory structures remain intact. This wider commitment requires us to be mindful always, and work actively against a wide range of social injustices that we may unwillingly replicate, including those pertaining to:
Gender and Sexuality
recognising that these factors often combine and intersect.
We commit to actively observe and act in the interest of social justice whenever our power and privilege is enacted. This includes:
– When researching and approaching artists to work with, we will work harder to find practitioners from a wide range of contexts and remain mindful of their particular needs and requirements throughout our work with them.
– When devising public programmes and events, and when marketing those programmes, we will ensure our activity is accessible and open. This includes making an extra effort to reach audiences who may otherwise feel unwelcome in contemporary art spaces, providing events and resources in a range of formats including in-person talks as well as texts in alternative formats. Exhibitions should be accessible and inclusive by default rather than requiring additional accommodations on the part of audiences.
– Ensure that Two Queens is a welcoming, inclusive and safe space, and that anyone experiencing discrimination or injustice may approach a member of the team for help and know that such requests will be handled sensitively.
– Recognise financial barriers to access, building these into the core of our work and applying for additional resources within funding applications. For example learning programmes for young people include basic essentials such as food, drink and travel costs.
– When creating employment within our organisation we will take positive action to reach candidates from a wide range of contexts and make these commitments a part of the job description of all current and future posts within the organisation. We will actively prioritise working towards a more diverse staff team.
– In the operation of our studio spaces and associate membership activity we will endeavour to make studios as accessible and affordable as possible, and programme activity and opportunities that address and benefit artists from a wider range of contexts.
– Expect the same level of commitment from individuals and organisations we work with and be vocal where we feel these principles are being violated or ignored. We will include this commitment within contracts with artists and freelancers, partnership agreements, studio holder code of conduct, recruitment forms etc.
Additional Measures (as of June 2020)
We need to undertake additional activity beyond our normal operations to help us to fulfil the above commitments. These projects will be regularly updated and expanded:
– Take time as a team and wider community to educate and discuss issues of social justice and anti-racism, including unconscious bias training, making these a mandatory part of future staff inductions and a standing item for annual general meetings.
– Share resources that we have found to be helpful and informative. We are choosing not to do this in the context of this document but as an ongoing activity through our existing channels.
– Work to create additional new programmes and initiatives of support to address a lack of representation for BAME artists in the wider contemporary art conext.
– Work to solidify existing and new sources of income and funding, allowing us to create additional staff posts, with a view to actively working towards a more diverse staff team.
– Allow community groups, charities and initiatives supporting social justice causes to make use of our gallery space for certain types of events for free or minimal cost (subject to current restrictions around COVID-19).
– We are in the process of forming a board of trustees, and will ensure that board includes members from a wide range of contexts, and that upholding this commitment is an obligation of board members.
– Re-draft our company constitution, including this commitment as a central priority of the organisation.
– Undertake work to make our website more accessible for blind and partially sighted users.
– Devise a new strategy for the studios and membership scheme aimed at including artists from wider contexts, including additional targeted marketing and outreach activity.
If you wish to discuss or make a contribution to any of the points arising in this commitment our preferred channel is via email to firstname.lastname@example.org – alternatively our team are happy to discuss this commitment in person during public gallery open times and events or make an appointment to do so.