We acknowledge the long and shameful history of abuse and violence towards Black people in the UK and across the world. In the weeks since the death of George Floyd, like many others, we have felt it necessary to embark on a process of profound reflection – interrogating all areas of our work. We embrace this as the moment for us to take long-overdue action. As an organisation with a national remit, we recognise our responsibility not only to be actively anti-racist in all aspects of our own activity, but to promote and encourage anti-racist action through our networks across the country.
To this end, we have developed an action plan that we pledge to roll out by the end of 2020. We’ll hold ourselves accountable for delivering on these commitments this year and will report regularly on progress. We’ll also use this time to embed longer-term initiatives that are currently in development.
Our Action Plan
Addressing our history
As an organisation founded over 100 years ago, we know that our history may include connections to Britain’s colonialist past. We commit this year to commissioning research tasked with uncovering these connections, as they relate to individuals associated with the CAS, whether these are past donors of artworks or money, staff or any other aspects of our activity. We will commission the research in partnership with the Decolonising Arts Institute at UAL, and publish the results as a permanent resource on our website.
Working with our Member Museums
We will inform our Museum Members that we are embarking on this research with the objective of being transparent about and learning from our history. Where hitherto hidden and problematic histories are uncovered through this research, we will offer to work with our Museum Members to develop new interpretation materials to amplify the understanding of artworks that have entered their collections through the CAS.
We commit to making the decolonising of museums the central focus of our continuous professional development programme for museum professionals from autumn 2020. We will develop a sustained, year-long programme of monthly events in partnership with the Decolonising Arts Institute at UAL, redoubling our efforts to help Member Museums address the questions of representation and decolonisation within their collections.
We will support our Member Museums in their development of long-term collection strategies in relation to decolonisation, paying particular attention to each individual museum and the community they are operating in.
We recommit to the support of Black artists and artists from under-represented backgrounds through all strands of our museum acquisitions programmes, actively seeking ways in which to bring their work to wider attention, and thereby increase representation in UK museum collections.
We recommit to the continued participation of Black and under-represented groups in decision-making committees such as the Acquisitions Advisory Committee.
Governance and staff
Our Anti-racism action plan will now be a standing agenda item for monthly team meetings, and at all Board meetings.
We have held a series of plenary staff meetings at which to discuss our institutional response to the problem of racial injustice. Rather than convene a diversity task force as a subset of the staff, we consider anti-racism action to be the responsibility of the entire team. We will therefore continue to convene these meetings on a monthly basis from September 2020, as an essential forum for ongoing discussion around our actions towards becoming a manifestly anti-racist organisation.
We will support all staff and Trustees to engage in anti-racist learning by providing them with the necessary resources.
As an organisation we recognise the need to reflect the diversity of society through the composition of our staff and board of trustees.
We will advertise our vacancies, at every level across the organisation, in more diverse media outlets both online and in print, in order to reach a more representative spectrum of candidates.
We recommit to increasing the diversity of the board of trustees as an ongoing and urgent priority.
We will ethically screen all external businesses we contract, including all suppliers of goods and services across the entire organisation, to ensure that they have an inclusivity and diversity policy in place, as part of an organisational culture of working towards being anti-racist.
Our Art Consultancy work
Our work on behalf of our clients includes commissioning artists and devising programme and cultural strategies. We recommit to ensuring equality of opportunity is built into all our projects and will redouble our efforts to ensure that our working methods and selection processes are free from systemic bias.
To that end we will develop a positive action policy statement to feature prominently in our marketing and communication materials, client proposals and website.
We will actively encourage our clients to adopt our policy through embedding it into arts and culture strategies, project delivery plans, artist briefs, the composition of decision-making panels and the engagement of artists.
We will focus our curatorial research on expanding our knowledge of Black artists and artists from other under-represented groups, ensuring that the artists we recommend reflect the diversity of society today.
Development & Communications
All our external communications will accurately reflect the diversity of our public and professional programmes and reinforce our commitment to promote anti-racist action through our networks.
We will ensure that resources generated through our continuous professional development programme for museum members are widely promoted through our website and other media channels and that the language used is as accessible as possible.
We will research best practice in the UK and internationally to understand how larger arts organisations apply anti-racist policy and strategies in their Development work.
We commit to developing our patron programme to raise awareness of Black artists and artists from under represented backgrounds, and will develop strategies to diversify our supporter groups.
We will share with our patrons our thinking around how we have changed and adapted our programme. We will provide clear messaging in how the CAS is approaching, responding to and investing in being an actively anti-racist organisation.
Developing our database
We are currently well advanced in the development of a database of all the donations we have made to museums in our 110-year history. We commit to ensuring all our data is robustly accurate and representative before making it publicly available online.
We will research best practice and opportunities for collaboration with fellow organisations such as DACS and Art UK.
We will confer with IPO and Art 360 for data on estate management and orphan works (where the rights holder cannot be traced) – to determine whether there is a disproportionate number of unknown / unattributed Black artists and artists from under represented backgrounds, in order to avoid similar misattribution on the CAS database. We will share our findings with museum colleagues through our CPD programme and with fellow organisations.