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Read our Anti-racism Statement and Action Plan

10 March 2021

Modern Art Oxford is committed to becoming an actively anti-racist organisation. We recognise our responsibility and accountability as a public cultural institution to combat racism in a society where it is deeply embedded.

This pledge forms part of our wider commitment to those who experience discrimination, inequality and diminished opportunities in today’s society. There are many forms of exclusion and discrimination and we acknowledge the complex nature of prejudice that specific individuals face, including in relation to race, class, gender, sexuality and disability. Modern Art Oxford already has an Equality, Diversity and Inclusion policy and action plan that includes these protected characteristics. However, this renewed commitment to action, prompted by the Black Lives Matter movement, seeks to address racism in particular while recognising that different community groups experience different types of racial prejudice and discrimination.

For Modern Art Oxford, this will begin with recognising the systemic racism within our own organisation. We have begun to think critically about all aspects of our work as a public institution. We are continuing to consult with our staff, volunteers, trustees and the communities we serve, in order to support a shift in organisational culture and practices and contribute to wider long-term change in our sector and society.

We will make anti-racist action an organisational priority and allocate time and resources to addressing systemic racism as a feature of our business planning and strategic objectives.

We commit to the following actions with immediate effect:

CULTURE: To enforce a zero tolerance policy towards racism and discriminatory behaviour within MAO, to foster an environment of awareness in relation to racial equality and create a culture of challenge.

LEARNING: To provide mandatory anti-racism training to trustees, staff and volunteers to tackle biased and exclusive attitudes and behaviour. To provide opportunities for everyone at MAO to continue their education, critical reflection and exchange. This includes dedicating time within working hours to do this. In 2020/21 this includes sharing anti-racism resources amongst staff and working with an external agency to deliver a number of training courses/workshops in early 2021. 

PROCESSES: Following the creation of the anti-racism working group in July 2020, we will continue to listen to our communities, staff and team to review working processes in order to achieve long-term organisational change. We will hold quarterly meetings to review progress and publish an annual report of our progress on our website.

LANGUAGE: We will review our use of language in all communication and stop using the term “BAME”. We will be specific wherever possible and use terms set out in the IncArts #BAMEOver campaign and educate our team in the use of more inclusive language. We acknowledge that language evolves and we will listen and learn from diverse voices and perspectives to inform our use of language.

PROGRAMMING: To strengthen and embed the presence and influence of artists from ethnically diverse backgrounds within our artistic programme and partnerships. We will update our Quality Principles to ensure our programme reflects our anti-racist stance. In 2020/21, 70% of artists involved in MAO’s exhibition programme are people from ethnically diverse backgrounds. In 21/22 66% of artists are from an ethnically diverse background.

REPRESENTATION: To ensure that our website, social media and all communications actively promote and celebrate the diversity of contemporary society in the life of the organisation. Within the redesign of MAO’s website (due summer 2021) we will update imagery and think critically about visibility. The creation of a new digital content platform will be an opportunity to further amplify diverse voices and creativity. In 2020/21 we will recruit a Creative Associate from a diverse ethnic background to lead the digital project for Modern Art Oxford.

RECRUITMENT: To take positive action to recruit staff from ethnically diverse backgrounds when employment opportunities arise. To change our recruitment processes in order to address historic under-representation of people from ethnically diverse backgrounds within our team. In 2020/21 this will include our post of Creative Associate (Digital) who will lead on our yearly digital project and a number of Trainee Creative Learning Practitioners specifically aimed at young people.

BUSINESS CONTRACTS: To seek opportunities wherever possible to work with ethnically diverse led businesses though our new contracts. To ensure our procurement processes include questions about equal opportunities within their workforces.

RESOURCES: To work with our ethnically diverse communities to explore how our resources – our facilities, expertise and influence – could be made more available.

GOVERNANCE: To strengthen the presence and representation of ethnically diverse communities on our Board of Trustees in order to improve our organisational governance. To include Anti-racism updates as part of the EDI reports on every Board meeting agenda.

FUNDRAISING: To develop an ethical policy to ensure that our funders, sponsors and stakeholders are aligned to the anti-racist actions and values in this plan.

SECTORAL LEADERSHIP: To work actively through our local, regional and national networks to dismantle systemic racism. In 20/21 working with CVAN, Oxford Cultural Partners, Oxford City Council, Plus Tate network, signing up to Oxford Cultural Anti Racism Manifest, Oxford Anti-racism city.

Please note: the language used to describe racism and the people who experience it is constantly evolving and we will review the language we use in this statement and action plan periodically, following best practice and listening to communities and organisations such as IncArts.

Modern Art Oxford is an active member of the Oxford Anti-Racism Cultural Alliance, working to eradicate systemic racism in the arts and cultural sector in Oxford:

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