An online workshop series co-produced by the Contemporary Art Society and Dr Anjalie Dalal-Clayton at the Decolonising Arts Institute (University of the Arts London).
The re-ignition of the Black Lives Matter and Rhodes Must Fall movements this year have prompted the nation’s museums and galleries to review their collections and practices and interrogate their complicity in upholding racist and white supremacist structures, systems and modes of thought. Many of us have been engaged in critical self-reflection, supported by anti-racist resources that compel us to ‘do the work’ – to examine our individual, deep-rooted perceptions, to change our day-to-day habits, and to take meaningful action to contest and counteract racism in our personal, familial and professional lives.
For those working in museums, art galleries and public art collections, the task of embedding anti-racist and decolonial practices may not feel simple. There are multiple, complex challenges at hand and many of the tools or strategies suggested to date do not account for the specificities and idiosyncrasies of our institutions and fields of work.
The objective for this workshop series is to respond to the needs of a wide range of museum colleagues wishing to engage meaningfully and practically in anti-racist and/or decolonial practice. Recent webinars on this topic have thus far only skirted around the issues, focussing broadly on the moral, civic and intellectual imperatives, but few have offered practical strategies that can be trialled by under-pressure museum staff who have little time to engage in research on the issues, let alone methods to address them.
It is not possible to produce a one-size-fits-all set of strategies, universal toolkit or style-guide, and so the aim in this series is for participants to discuss the particular challenges they face in doing this work and to use those discussions with colleagues in similar roles across the sector to develop tools and initiatives to test back in the workplace.
This series will be necessarily different to the CAS’s longstanding Continuous Professional Development (CPD) programme: its design and objective is premised on active participation; it aims to draw out personal experiences of those working in museums and examples of both good and bad practice; and it seeks to produce shareable resources. For this reason, the format of each workshop will be small, comprising 25-30 participants who will break out into smaller groups for more in-depth discussion. Each participant should come ready to discuss specific examples that they have encountered or been involved in, to enable an open and productive discussion.
The format will typically involve two presentations by individuals working in the museum and gallery sector in the UK or internationally, who have a track record of implementing anti-racist and/or decolonial practice in their relevant field of work. These presentations will outline some of the challenges faced by museum workers, possible strategies for addressing those challenges, and may even act as a provocation. In the breakout rooms the participants will discuss a particular issue or challenge they are each grappling with, or strategy that they have been testing, carefully listening to and responding to one another. The participants will then discuss possible tools/methods/initiatives/solutions to the issues raised and which they intend to test back in the workplace.
Time permitting, participants may then return to the ‘main room’ to share discussion points and key insights. Each breakout group will be gently facilitated by a member of staff at CAS, DeAI, or one of the presenters, and will be recorded for (anonymised) transcription after the workshop has ended.
After the workshop ends, recordings will be sent for transcription. Participants can opt to be anonymised in the transcripts. The transcripts will then be given to researchers based at/supervised by DeAI to synthesise into discursive reports, which will also draw on relevant literature in the field. These reports will be shared online as CAS x DeAI resources (available to the entire CAS membership and beyond).
Stretching across 2021, this online workshop series will address a variety of areas of museum work. The first half will consider how artworks are catalogued, interpreted, curated, and displayed, and how interventions by artists and curators not embedded within the museum can impact these practices. The second half will explore key issues in public engagement, acquisitions, funding and patronage, and leadership and governance.
Curation and Display: The Stories We Tell, the Knowledge We Produce
Wednesday 20 January 2020, 12.30 – 14.30
Wednesday 24 February, 12.30 – 14.30
Wednesday 24 March, 12.30 – 14.30
If you have any questions about this series and the new format, get in touch with Ilaria Puri Purini at email@example.com.
To book your place for any of these workshops please email firstname.lastname@example.org, see event pages for deadlines.