We all know that the arts and heritage sector has been governed by a pretty privileged white workforce – and honestly, it hasn’t been any more diverse in terms of the communities it’s trying to serve.
As people who love the arts, who work in the arts, who create art, we know that the only way for arts and heritage organisation serve their communities is to be truly representative of those community voices.
So, what can you do?
Genuinely acknowledge the real biases and privileges that exist. No matter how aware or woke you – and we! – are, we all have biases and exist on a spectrum of privilege
Don’t rely on information about communities coming in tokenistic ways. We as a sector have to put the effort in. We can’t make decisions in collaboration with or on behalf of communities without deep understanding built from mutual respect.
Throw the equality and diversity policy in the bin – instead, have principles of equality and diversity embedded across ALL policies and areas of your work. It should be a staple of all departments, not hidden in a corner.
Remember that museums are never neutral spaces, no matter how hard they try or claim to be. Instead of faking, embrace it! Use it to give platforms and spaces to communities and voices, and allow conversations to happen.
Open up and fund paid opportunities for younger people and those new to the sector. It’s next to impossible a career in arts, culture and heritage without holding privilege and support as so much work is unpaid, reliant on out-of-work labour, and based on having free time to get to know specialist subjects. This ties into differences in financial privilege between people of colour and white counterparts – a contributing factor into why the heritage and culture sector is overwhelmingly white.
These aren’t the entire story, but they’re a start to combating white privilege and truly serving your communities.
Don’t settle for the status quo. We can all do better – and there’s nothing wrong with admitting that.