Our Anti-Racist Work: More Than a Moment Pledge Statement

Our Anti-Racist Work: More Than a Moment Pledge Statement

In many ways, it feels as if Spectra is coming out of hibernation. We’ve had a tough year tucked away writing funding applications without much time being creative together – it has felt a bit like being a bear stuck in a cave! Because of this unusual year, we’ve had time to think and plan. One issue we’ve spent lots of time thinking and talking about is how we can take meaningful action against racism.

In November 2020, Spectra officially signed up to the More Than a Moment Pledge. 

‘The More Than A Moment pledge is the West Midlands Arts sector’s promise to take radical, bold and immediate action, to dismantle the systems that have for too long kept Black artists and creatives from achieving their potential in the arts and cultural industries.

‘Organisations who sign up to the pledge, wholeheartedly commit to ensuring equity, investment in, and opportunities with and for Black artists and creatives within their organisation’s culture and work, and in doing so, becoming the change we all need to see.’

www.culturecentral.co.uk/mtam/

We are motivated by our desire to cultivate a world that celebrates difference. The diversity of the people we work with is our greatest strength – we couldn’t make our performances without this being at the centre of how we work. And this way of working is very much how we wish the world would work too. 

As a neurodiverse company, we are deeply engaged in working against the inequalities people with learning disabilities and neurodivergent people face. We want to be just as engaged where these inequalities exist for people of all descriptions, and signing up to the More Than a Moment Pledge is one way we are committing to address the inequalities facing Black people. We recognise that characteristics overlap, or intersect, and we seek wholeheartedly to stand up for and celebrate the people who inhabit these intersections too.

The Pledge requires us to regularly review and set goals for how Spectra is led, how we recruit and look after the people who work with us, how we look after what it feels like to work with Spectra, how we choose what work we do, how we work to make sure diverse audiences are actively welcomed to our work, and how we make sure we do things we say we’re going to do. This is challenging work – and we say bring it on! We want to see change and we will start with ourselves.

In December 2020, we joined forces with our friends at Open Theatre Company to set up a monthly group that meets to discuss concepts, ask questions and think about action against racism. These monthly meetings continue and we are pleased that our recent funding success with Arts Council England means we will be able to invite paid facilitators to come in and help us move our thinking and slowly developing plans for creative action forward.

Passing Time Production Still, Photo by Robin Jax

In Spring 2021, we supported one of our Black artists, Tyrone Williams, to successfully apply for and create a film commission from Birmingham International Dance Festival. Ty has worked with us for seven years and is a much valued member of our Performance Company. We are thrilled for Ty to have had this opportunity to share his awesomeness with the world. Our anti-racist work has made us all the more aware of how crucial it is to have Ty’s voice as a learning disabled Black man heard. If you want to watch the epic dance battle between the past and future he created, check it out here: https://youtu.be/yjwndfOHeHg.

Due to that recent funding success with ACE (and another commission – more on this in January), we will be doing a lot of recruitment in the next few months. Our commitment to the Pledge and the time we’ve had to think and plan means we’ve been able to take a good look at how we recruit people to work with us. We are privileged to work with the Black creatives already within our organisation, but there is an imbalance across the sector and we see that reflected at Spectra too. We want to work against this by actively reaching out and welcoming more Black creatives to work with us. We hope the changes we’ve made to the information we put out when we’re recruiting, where we post that information, and how we manage the shortlisting and interview processes helps us to become an even more racially diverse company.

Our anti-racist work is woven through all that way do. As part of making sure we are fulfilling our commitment to the Pledge and weaving anti-racist action into all aspects of our work, we’ll share an update that pulls together all our work in this area every six months and post it on this blog. We very much hope there will be lots of news to share on this front in the meantime too!

With forward movement in mind, we are eager to discuss our work on the Pledge and related ideas. Please contact kate@wearespectra.co.uk to start a conversation.