Anti-racism statement

Becoming an anti-racist organisation

We stand to denounce racism

If you’re really interested in creating anti-racist change, you have to look around you and see where you hold the influence’ – Reni Eddo-Lodge

We recognise our areas of influence lie in the objects and stories we collect, the interpretations we apply to them, the ways in which we engage with the communities we serve, and the people we employ to carry out this work.

We, in common with many other individuals and organisations feel the need to challenge ourselves to step outside of our institutional comfort zones, to seek and drive out any systemic racism, and to ensure we use our influence to challenge racism. Our commitment is to truly become an anti-racist organisation.

TWAM commitment

To work towards being an anti-racist organisation by:

  • Reviewing what we do and the way we do it in order to identify and address any possible systemic racism. In particular, but not exclusively, in areas of collecting, interpretation, workforce development, community engagement.
  • Opening ourselves up to greater public scrutiny, finding critical friends/professional peer reviewers who can help us with the journey our organisation has embarked upon.
  • Creating and strengthening  an anti-racist culture across the organisation through training, resource sharing, greater exposure to issues, standing items on meeting agendas, reinforcing processes for reporting on and responding to incidents of racism.

A key initial commitment is to the decolonisation of our collections and their interpretation. This will involve a review of our collections and acquisition processes to ensure we are moving towards wider and equitable representation of cultures in the collections we hold for the region and, through a review of our approaches to interpretation, the stories we tell with them. This work has already commenced at the Great North Museum, and we are planning our approaches across the wider organisation.

We commit to publishing an activity plan by the end of June each year setting out the actions we will take to turning our statement of intent into reality.

We further commit to supporting the North East Culture Against Racism Group where we can add value.

Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums Anti- Racism Action plan 2021-2

This plan, based on TWAM’s Business plan for 2021-2, sets out the activity we are planning to undertake up to March 2022 to drive out systemic racism within the organisation, and move us towards becoming a genuinely anti-racist organisation. This sits beneath our pledge to become an anti racist organisation as part of the Culture Against Racism North East network.

The plan will be kept under constant review, and we anticipate shift as we learn more.

We will take specific actions in the following areas over 2021-2:

Workforce:

Action Date due Owner/funding
Audit of existing recruitment processes. (An audit will be taken using the ACE Recruitment & Workforce Development Toolkit, Creative & Cultural Skills Best Practice Recruitment Guide for Creative Leaders and Inc Arts Unlocked Anti-Racism Toolkit).August 2021 (with aim to implement recommendations where possible by March 2022 at latest) Workforce group/HR Advisor (funded from existing resources)
Improved workforce monitoring processes including the introduction of a process to monitor freelancer diversity. October 2021 Workforce group/HR Advisor (funded from existing resources)
Anti racism training rolled out to staff (in addition to Equality and Diversity training delivered as part of all staff induction). March 2022 Workforce group/HR Advisor (funding dependent)
Develop a staff resource area with educational materials to encourage staff to develop a greater level of awareness and understanding on race, and supporting them to access other relevant development opportunities. Ongoing (This has been established and will be added to and developed on an ongoing basis) HR Advisor (funded from existing resources)
Review volunteer programmes and processes and proactively recruit to ensure racial inclusion. March 2022 Learning and Engagement Manager

Collections:

Action Date due Owner
Review and revise terms used to tag objects in collections database, ensuring that language is acceptable to minoritised ethnic groups and supporting access to objects with relevant stories more easily. March 2022 Collections group/Collections Information Manager (funded from existing resources)
Review of both Collections Development Policy and Archives Acquisition and Disposals policy to ensure representative collecting of objects and stories of relevance to minoritised ethnic groups in the North East.December 2021Head of Programmes and Collections  (funded from existing resources)

Programming:

Action Date due Owner
Research and develop content that demonstrates a commitment to anti racism across our programming eg
- Deliver Arthur Wharton Docu-Drama
- Work with community groups to identify stories about the role of, principally the British Honduras Forestry Unit, and others on Tyneside during WW2 as part of national Imperial War Museum project.
- Audit and develop schools loans resources (Boxes of Delight).
Ongoing
October 2021
March 2022

March 2022
- Leadership Team
- Digital producer 
- Discovery History Team
- Boxes of Delight team
Research and develop first draft communications guidelines to ensure diversity of representation and appropriate use of language across interpretation and marketing and communications. December 2022 Principal Communications officer (funded from existing resources)

External support and Challenge:

Action Date due Owner
Map communities, organisations and individuals we are already working with, and identify gaps. October 2021 Equalities group (funded from existing resources)
Develop transparent and fair processes to engage groups and individuals, leading to a framework for support and challenge eg such as via the partnership policy currently under development.March 2022  Equalities group (may require additional resource)

Decolonisation (Initially at Great North Museum):

Action Date due Owner
Decolonisation scoping (process to develop roadmap towards creation of a decolonisation strategy) for Great North Museum (GNM). June 2021 GNM Executive Manager (funded from existing resources)
Creation of decolonisation strategy (taking outcomes of scoping exercise and creating strategy in collaboration with key stakeholders and communities) for GNM.July 2022GNM Executive Manager (depending on further funding to support external engagement)
Merging of decolonisation strategy in to overarching GNM Strategic Plan for delivery 2022-2025 From July 2022 (delivery August 2022-2025) GNM Executive Manager (funded from existing resources)
Decolonisation outcomes and lessons learnt shared with TWAM and adopted where relevant From July 2022 TWAM Leadership (funded from existing resources)

Actions for 2022-3 will be developed over this year but are likely to focus on taking the above areas further forward, as we build on experience gained and support and challenge offered. We will make every effort to utilise appropriate language and terminology on this journey, and fully accept we will not always get this right. We welcome any feedback/comments on this issue as part of our drive to become an anti-racist organisation.