We've signed up to Culture Central's pledge committing to radical action to dismantle inequality in the arts sector

We’re proud to be amongst the first organisations signing up to Culture Central’s More Than A Moment pledge, a promise of bold, radical and immediate action with and for Black creatives.

Developed by Black artists and leaders from arts organisations across the West Midlands, the pledge, which has been announced by Culture Central today, is the first step in a journey towards implementing meaningful, long-term change with and for the region’s Black creatives.

By signing up, we are promising to take concrete action to dismantle the systems preventing Black artists and creatives from achieving their full potential in the arts industries, and monitoring our progress as we do so.

The idea to create the pledge was born earlier this year. Following the murder of George Floyd and the rising awareness of Black Lives Matter across the globe, Elizabeth Lawal, a young Black theatre-maker and Board member of Culture Central, questioned what the arts and cultural sector was really doing to make organisations truly reflective of our communities?

From here, she began collaborating with a small working group to explore what actions could be taken. Led by a collective of Black artists and creatives including our own 2021 Co-Artistic Director Corey Campbell (along with Jay Crutchley, Steady Steadman, Pauline Bailey and Reisz Amos), the group also included leaders of other local arts organisations (Sophina Jagot, Erica Love, Roisin Caffrey and Stephanie Brown of Culture Central,  Birmingham Hippodrome’s Chris Sudworth, Birmingham REP’s Amit Sharma & Rachael Thomas Warwick Arts Centre’s Doreen Foster and Birmingham Opera Company’s Richard Willacy.

Together, the members of the group co-created and implemented a five-part process of radical listening, reflecting and revision, aiming to permanently change the Black experience of the West Midlands’ cultural sector. Today’s pledge is the result of their efforts so far.

With listening at its core, the process involved Black artists and members of the creative workforce sharing their experiences in a safe and open way, both via online research and in facilitated spaces. Black artists and members of the creative workforce gave feedback about their experiences and talked about the changes that are needed to create equity.

In the next phase, a group of established and emerging Black creatives then gave their time to voice their experiences to senior leaders, board members and funders. From this, the working group developed a pledge and statement with tangible actions and a model for holding each other accountable, continually reviewing, consulting and revising it to ensure what they were creating would drive lasting change.

Elizabeth Lawal said: “More than a moment began with a vison to make tangible change with and for the Black Creative Workforce, this process has been led with so much care and attention and passion from the More than a Moment working group, Black artists, creatives and professionals, we know that this is only the starting point, but what a great way to begin. This model can now be used to create co-designed solutions, for everyone and anyone. A huge thank you to all the contributors to this process.”

Grown out of five months of considered, radical listening and collaborative work across the region, the pledge, More Than a Moment: Action with and for Black Creatives outlines four key steps towards change:

  • Take radical action now
  • Create opportunities across the sector at all levels
  • Create an anti-racist culture where Black people can thrive and fulfil their potential
  • Be accountable for the change

By signing up to the pledge, the Belgrade and other organisations have promised that, as we rebuild following the global pandemic, we will never again perpetuate the systems that strip Black people from thriving within the sector. We commit to ensuring equity, investment in, and opportunities with and for Black artists and creatives.

The support towards this pledge and the overwhelming desire to do better as a region is already apparent, with 160 leaders from arts and cultural organisations having attended the pledge sector sessions, along with sign-ups in principle from Belgrade Theatre, Birmingham Hippodrome, Birmingham Opera Company, Birmingham Repertory Theatre, Black Arts Forum CIC, C & T, Culture Central, Handsworth Creative CIC, Open Theatre, Stan’s Cafe, Strictly Arts Theatre and Yugen Arts.

This work will become the blueprint in the quest for the arts and culture sector in the West Midlands in addressing structural and systemic inequality. We listen, we take action, we radically move forward.

To see the research, full pledge and info about how to sign up, visit the Culture Central website.