Our Commitment to Anti-Racism: An Update from the PMC

  • 24 August 2020

In the statement that we shared on 5 June 2020 about our commitment to antiracism at the Centre, we promised to communicate the ways in which we are changing our policies and practices.

Since then, we have formed a working group that includes staff from across our areas of activity. As its first task, the group audited our recent work at the Centre, looking at diversity and inclusion in relation to race for major areas of our activity: collections, communications and our website, grants and fellowships, human resources, the learning programme, and publications. Although there are significant gaps in our data, and improving our data collection is now a priority, this audit immediately established several areas for improvement.

For some of these, we have initiatives already underway, based on our ongoing research into best practice:

  • In September, all staff at the Centre will participate in unconscious bias training. Further training sessions, on antiracist practice and sensitive language-use in relation to race, are being planned.

  • The Centre is preparing a proposal for a major new suite of fellowships that will support students and academics of colour as they pursue research in British art history.

  • This year, new external members will be invited to join the Centre’s publications committee, which chooses the book projects that we publish. This recruitment will be shaped by two distinct priorities. First, we will ensure that the committee always includes people of colour. Second, we will recruit committee members in order to enhance and expand expertise in the following areas: modern and contemporary art; Black British artists and art movements; migration and post-colonialism in British art; and histories of imperialism, slavery, and colonialism.

  • We recognise that fair pay for work promotes equity, and are preparing a transparent fee structure for all freelance contributors to the Centre’s activities. Within this broader initiative, two changes are already in place: fees for authors who contribute to our printed newsletter, PMC Notes, and increased fees for artists collaborating with our journal British Art Studies (in each case, following guidance from the relevant professional association).
  • As part of a re-evaluation of our recruitment practices, we have started to anonymise all applications for new positions before they are considered for shortlisting.

These are only the first steps within a much longer-term programme of change, which will encompass all our activities at the Centre. As we stated in June, we remain fully committed to weaving antiracist values into the fabric of our institution. Further updates on our actions in this area will be provided every six months.