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

This plan, based on TWAM’s Business plan for 2023-24, sets out progress we have made and the activity we are planning to undertake 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:


ActionProgressNext steps and dates Date due for review
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).Initial draft audit work completed.  Recommendations made and implemented in relation to:
- Jobs page on website 
- Paying interview expenses 
- Sharing roles more widely across networks and associated organisations
Review outcomes with equalities working group and agree next steps/ actions. 

Keep abreast of current best practice and apply to our processes where possible.
June 2023

Improved workforce monitoring processes including the introduction of a process to monitor freelancer diversity.Addendum for freelancer contract written which will allow us to collect freelancer data. Develop an area of the TWAM website to advertise freelance opportunities. Place links to information on relevant portals.

Embed a new workforce management data system to monitor diversity and track training and development needs.
By end of September 2023
Anti-racism training rolled out to staff (in addition to Equality, Diversity & Inclusion (EDI) training delivered as part of all staff inductions). Partnership with Connected Voice to develop tailored EDI training for all staff. The package will include Overall EDI, Cultural Competency and Bias training.   Training plan developed to identify training to support staff in awareness of communities. To date this has included: 
- Awareness of Refugee and Asylum Seekers
- Hate crime awareness A small number of staff have completed a Level 2 qualification in EDI through Learning Curve. 

Two members of TWAM staff are enrolled on the MA’s recently launched decolonisation programme, which provides support for people to advance their decolonising practice through a series of in-person events and online modules. This will be shared with other staff through team meetings. Learning and Engagement staff enrolled on Anti-Racist Practice training – this will be shared with colleagues. 
Development and Delivery of EDI bespoke training programme in person to all staff over next 3 years.

Review and update EDI policy.

Share learning from Decolonisation collective via Leadership team and Equalities working group.

Review Anti-Racist practice training and apply learning across teams.
From September 2023

February 2023

December 2023

By end of June 2023
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. Staff resources have been collated and are continuing to be updated.  Build staff awareness of resources. Information about the area to be shared in TWAM staff newsletter. 

Develop an easily accessible area on staff pages where staff can access information and training materials. HR and Communications team to develop and communicate this.
Initial work complete. Ongoing development of resources.
Review volunteer programmes and processes and proactively recruit to ensure racial inclusion.Funding from Volunteer Futures programme is supporting our ambition to create an inclusive and creative volunteer programme. New staff are in place to support this work which builds on an earlier review of volunteering in TWAM. Infrastructure of volunteer process has been improved, including processes around expenses and induction. Training developed to support staff working with volunteers. Developing volunteer roles that target underrepresented communities is ongoing. Work is continuing to redevelop the volunteer programme. Continuing to monitor diversity data. Ensuring broader awareness of opportunities available. Development of relevant opportunities for diverse range of people.Review progress in March 2023
Multaka project providing volunteering opportunities for refugee and asylum seekers to increase their skills and confidence around employability and living in North East England.First year of Multaka volunteer programme complete and lessons learned applied to year 2.

Year 2 Multaka cohort recruited. Volunteer steering group is active in developing year 2 programme with staff.

Contact made with organisations supporting refugee and asylum seekers in North Tyneside, South Tyneside and Gateshead in addition to Newcastle based agencies.
Welcome signage in different languages to be added to each venue.

Taking part in refugee week activity across venues.

Achieve Museum of Sanctuary award.

Develop volunteer opportunities with relevant agencies across all 4 local authorities.
June 2023

June 2023  

December 2023

 Work will develop throughout 2023-24
Placement delivered with New Museum School to support postgraduate placement for an individual from a minoritised ethnic group.Placement to start in 2023.Be part of New Museum network and host internship at Great North Museum: Hancock.Placement start date to be confirmed


Action ProgressNext steps and datesDate due for review
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.Initial work complete - Collections Management system has been upgraded to allow capture of equalities information. New tab has capability to record generic HR terminology, as well as community/individual preferred language. Look up lists are being created, and some records backfilled. Look up lists to continue to be populated as an ongoing piece of work.

All new ‘active’ acquisitions to have equalities information captured (where donor is happy for us to do so).  

Data Protection elements to be reviewed.

Recent projects reviewed to capture and update relevant information/stories.

Work with communities’ team to connect communities work with collections data.

Develop strategy for implementation of tagging.
Initial work complete

Ongoing work

March 2023

March 2024
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.Collections development policy was updated and is available on website.   We carried out a full review of the Archives Acquisition and Disposal policy in late 2021, and the amended policy was approved by the Strategic Board in March 2022.  Action completed.

The Collections Development Plan includes commitments from us to:  
 -Proactively collect records which represent the full range of activities, cultures and viewpoints within Tyne & Wear.

- Further develop collections which document the history of the Jewish communities of the North East through the Lahav Jewish heritage project and the Unlocking North East Jewish heritage project. 

Use partnership projects, including Exchange, Congruence Engine, and local oral history projects to explore how we can widen the groups and communities represented in the collections.
Ongoing work

Review progress by December 2023

March 2024
Curatorial/Collections research to develop stories relating to colonialism and with reference to stories connected with people with protected characteristicsCurrent collections research ongoing and included Great North Museum: Hancock Abel Chapman spotlight exhibition - African natural science collection through lens of decolonisation.John Ellerman Funding sought for curatorial research on themes of Decolonisation.Ongoing
Review contemporary collecting with reference to learning from Diaspora communities linked to exchange projectsThis work will link to the programmes and learning from the Exchange Community led research projectsTyneside Exchange Esmee Fairbairn funded Community led research project, will begin at South Shields Museum followed by Discovery Museum.

Exchange 2 community-led project to be completed at Discovery Museum.

Programme of Knowledge Exchange events to ensure staff are aware of developments.
March 2024

July 2023

July 2023
Review of permanent galleries to better reflect wider stories – possible impact on donated items Galleries to be identified and work programme developed.Connect with relevant organisations e.g. We Are Here Black cultural Archives associated with Northumbria University to inform exhibitions resources etc.March 2024


Action ProgressNext steps and datesDate due for review
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).
Must see stories – an interview with Shaun Campbell, founder of the Arthur Wharton Foundation talking about racism and black representation in football has been published on TWAM’s Must-see Stories website: 
Exploring potential for more audio episodes.  

Stories of Service exhibition at Discovery Museum is complete and work to include these stories in learning resources and permanent galleries is ongoing.  

The Exchange Community led research programme at Discovery Museum developed a permanent Women’s trail, highlighting the contribution of women of colour to the region. The programme also delivered an event on Indian Indentureship and connections to ship model collections.

Boxes of Delight plan in place to include stories relating to minoritised ethnic communities linked to collections research in loans boxes.
Arthur Wharton audio interview published. Exploring potential for further interviews.

Exchange Community-led Research 1.0 and Stories of Service at Discovery Museum completed.
                          Exchange 2.0 Community-led research - embedding work around Indian indentureship and Women continues.  

Embedding Stories of Service in permanent gallery and learning resources by March 2023.  

Holocaust Memorial Day talk and Lahav exhibition in January 2023.         

Esmee Fairbairn community led research programme - Tyneside Exchange at South Shields Museum to be carried out in 2023.

South Shields Museum to work with the South Tyneside Mela in connection with its Food exhibition – Scran! A History of Food & Drink in South Tyneside.


Work complete

July  2023

 March 2023

 January 2

 First year complete

March 2024

August 2023
Research and develop first draft communications guidelines to ensure diversity of representation and appropriate use of language across interpretation and marketing and communications.Research has been gathered from various professional bodies representing different protected characteristics. It still needs to be compiled and published for staff use.

To be completed by end of March 2023

Use community festivals and national awareness days to celebrate and promote TWAM's partnerships with diverse communities.
 March 2023


External support and Challenge:

Action ProgressNext steps and datesDate due for review 
Map communities, organisations and individuals we are already working with, and identify gaps.Partners and Partnerships data in place. Ongoing development of this work and building community awareness across 9 venues.Create formal light touch updating process. Explore how to promote partnerships across communications platforms. October 2023
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.Carry out initial review of TWAM’s partnership framework to assess suitability.Develop Fair participatory practice policy. Build on learning from Exchange programme. Develop community Engagement framework.March 2024
Develop, recruit and embed a community board drawn from equitable networks established with local communities which will provide challenge and advocacy across Equalities and Programming work.Recruit diverse community members from around our 9 venues to join a Community Board.  

Bring the Community Board and the Strategic Board together and ensure crossover in membership.
July 2023              March 2024
Sign up as HAREF allies to support Health and wellbeing programmes for minoritised ethnic communities through our Communities programmes.Development of Communities programmes to ensure connection with challenges of health inequalities for minoritized ethnic communities.March 2024



Action ProgressNext steps and datesDate due for review
Decolonisation scoping (process to develop roadmap towards creation of a decolonisation strategy) for Great North Museum: Hancock. Initial strategy scoping work was completed at Great North Museum: Hancock.Develop this as a TWAM-wide initiativeInitial work completed June 2021 
Decolonisation outcomes and lessons learnt shared with TWAM and adopted where relevant.Decision made to develop this work across TWAM venues from the outset. Introduced a cross staff group looking at Decolonisation work across collections, workforce, engagement, training and programmes which meets monthly to progress areas of work.
Action plan for Decolonisation created and implemented across all TWAM venues and programmes (e.g., communications, collections).Recruitment of critical friend to support initial work Funded through Esmee Fairbairn - Tyneside Exchange community led research programme Work plans produced for: 
- Collections
- Learning
- Community Engagement
- Workforce development
March 2024
Development of funding bids to support all elements of this workOngoing process to identify relevant funding opportunities that support elements of this workJohn Ellerman Funding sought for curatorial research on themes of Decolonisation.  

Successful application to UKRI/ Museums Association learning cohort for Mindsets and Missions funding.
March 2024
Participation in Museums Association Decolonisation CollectiveParticipation in 6 sessions over the yearLearning to be shared via Leadership/Knowledge share events and in discussion with teams.March 2024
Programme of Knowledge Exchange events planned to ensure staff are aware of developments in this area We have begun to programme and deliver events with a focus on elements of the process.Continue to deliver 4-6 events a year to debate subjects, share knowledge and learning.March 2024

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.