Channel / 5 Jun 2020

A Time to Think and Act Differently

Statement from David Drake, Director, 5 June 2020

Today we offer our full support for the Black Lives Matter movement and for those campaigning for social justice, human rights and equalities across the world.

Public anger at the tragic events that have unfolded in the United States, the disproportionate impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) individuals and communities in the UK, and the upcoming third anniversary of the Grenfell Tower fire, underline all too starkly the need for us all to acknowledge that racism is not something happening elsewhere, it is happening here. We feel the depth of anger and hurt, and the frustration that the process of change is taking so long, despite many decades of protest and campaigning, legislation and governmental pledges.

Now is the time for cultural organisations, large and small, to interrogate what we do, the statements we make, our governance, our employment practices, our programming and our engagement with artists and audiences. We need to recognise our conscious and unconscious biases and challenge them at every level. We need to listen to the voices of those who feel marginalised and excluded, those who mistrust public institutions and feel the door is closed on them in terms of opportunity. We need to use our influence to shape a more inclusive, diverse and equal future for the arts, and for society as a whole. We need to reflect, act decisively and implement changes where they are needed.

I'm proud of the steps Ffotogallery has been taking over many years to address diversity, inclusion and social justice, in Wales and internationally. This informs our programming decisions, which are driven by the creative energy, commitment and vision of the artists and partner organisations we work with, and that of our team. However, I recognise that there is so much more to be done to tackle discriminatory practice and systemic racism. We need to be more transparent and accountable, to question ourselves and not become complacent. We need to proactively invite our audiences and the artistic community in Wales and beyond to join in constructive and meaningful conversations about Ffotogallery’s future activities. Now is an unprecedented opportunity to think and act differently, as we begin to come out of this terrible first phase of the pandemic.

Asking difficult questions about ourselves is uncomfortable, and from my experience arts organisations often respond in defensive ways and resist change. That is not an option for Ffotogallery. We will do all we can to be a strong and influential voice in the coming weeks and months. We will play our part in finding immediate and longer-term solutions to these system defects. We want to work with you to tackle the underlying issues and enact the transformational changes that are so urgently needed.

If you wish to share your ideas and thoughts with us, please write directly to me at [email protected]

Cadw’n iach a ddiogel

David Drake

Director

(Image, The Place I Call Home exhibiting artists at Ffotogallery, October 2019)