On 2 June 2020 Liverpool Irish Festival began sharing #BlackLivesMatter notifications, including anti-fascist solidarity messages from peers about the brutal murder of George Floyd by a member of the Minneapolis Police Force. The Festival believes that the ongoing fight against racial injustice requires everyone’s support. The events between George Floyd’s murder and today have shown us that it is not enough to issue statements of solidarity. We have to do more: in our programmes, our staffing and governance and with audiences, partners and stakeholders.
We will keep challenging and educating ourselves and will seek ways in which we can do better and contribute more effectively to the dismantling and eradication of institutional and societal racism.
We stand firmly with the promotion, vindication and assertion of the fact that #BlackLivesMatter.
- Recent activity
The Festival has questioned our practices and considered what we can do differently to affect positive change. We will continue expanding our dual-heritage lives programmes and working with Creative Organisations of Liverpool (COoL) members to develop programmes for Black History Month and the city. These programmes set multiple aims to develop community opportunities and generate greater understanding about tolerance, inclusion and eradicating systems of oppression.
For some time, Liverpool Irish Festival has been challenging ‘norms’ about Irishness and its place within the BAME framework, given the propensity for any discrimination or disadvantages that Irish people in Britain experience to be invisible and pass unrecognised. Our work with dual-heritage communities opens our work to Black community members, which we aim to build on, shout about and make specific invitations to.
We do not subscribe to or wish to engage in an ‘All Lives Matter’ debate.
We are committing to developing work -annually- that encourages and necessitates Black engagement. Instead of a commitment to spend a specific percentage of funds on this work, we will actively develop accessibility and energetically embrace BAME diversity, disability, LGBTQI+ and neurodiversity within our programme. Our aim is that 25% of the annual programme (events, literature and web content features) will specifically address and involve these complex topics and communities. We will monitor related creative outputs against the total programme and report findings in the Festival Review, with a specific section on other minority ethnic communities and a direct address of #BlackLivesMatter. Therefore we will
- review how we commit resources to commission more Black, Asian and minority ethnic artists, curators, academics and researchers within our physical and online programmes
- review how we support existing platforms and networks led by Black, Asian and minority ethnic people, to amplify their work and extend context and reach
- ensure we are inclusive of Black people in our events, exhibitions and learning programmes
- invest in and support content that centres the experience of Black, Asian and minority ethnic people by supporting the artists and creatives who are already doing this work, seeking active partnerships, commissioning new work and sharing the work of others across our social media platforms
- host and engage in conversation with artists, audiences and local communities to explore the use of our platform and networks to effect real change in our city and the sector.
- Contracts and Agreements
The Festival wants to centre ethics and equity in our choice of those suppliers who provide us with services and materials. In addition to this goal, we commit to supply our #BlackLivesMatter statement, as standard, with all Liverpool Irish Festival issued contracts, augmenting our existing ‘partnership agreement for inclusivity’, meaning those we work with commit to supporting #BlackLivesMatter agendas.
The Festival will work hard to create opportunities to make our staff team and the freelance creatives we contract, more representative of the communities in which we work. As a matter of priority, we will review how we recruit and appoint permanent and freelance, temporary and voluntary contractors and staff. We will consult on our organisational language to better understand what barriers we may, unconsciously, create. Additionally, we will review how to appoint Black, Asian and minority ethnic people people as Trustees to increase representation on our Festival Board.
We are working to open ourselves to change and be positive and active allies in the #BlackLivesMatter campaign. We recommend learning more about the movement, local issues and pursuing self-exploration into unconscious bias and other forms of institutional racism.
As creative producers and community representatives, the Festival recognises its potential to strengthen communities, enrich lives and transform thinking. We take this role seriously and hope this statement evidences our intention to improve systems, support Black people and take on active advocacy in pursuing equity. Most importantly, we hope it drives home that #BlackLivesMatter.
Reading and resources
- Anthony Walker Foundation (killed 2005)
- Black Lives Matter
- Black Visions collective
- George Floyd Memorial Fund (official) (killed 2020)
- Reclaim the block
- Remember Oluwale (David Oluwale, killed 1969)
- Stand Up To Racism
- Stephen Lawrence Research Centre(killed 1993)
Read about and other resource lists
- 10 documentaries to watch about race instead of asking a person of colour to explain things for you
- Betsy Faulkner’s books/what to watch/podcasts/accounts/donate and ‘How can I use my privilege?’ list
- Black Lives Matter resources – compiled by Vijay Patel
- Do copanis really support the cause? – BBC
- F**k the Riots, F**k the State, F**k the Tate: Riots and Reform – The White Pube (comprehensive reading list provided here)
- Great War to Race Riots – Madeline Henegan and Emy Onuora
- I am Irish – Lorraine Maher
- No, the Irish were not slaves, too – Liam Hogan (more about Liam and his work here: https://hcommons.org/members/liamhogan/) Twitter handle: @Limerick1914
- The toppling of Edward Colston’s statue is not an attack on history. It is history – David Olusoga in the Guardian
#BlackLivesMatter watch and watch lists