Liverpool Irish Festival is committed to racial tolerance, equality, inclusion and positive relations.
We believe in the mission of Black Lives Matter and in working to provide equitable rights for all people. Over the last two years, the Festival has collaborated closely with a collective of similarly passionate arts and culture organisations. These span two of Liverpool’s great arts sector networks –Creative Organisations of Liverpool (COoL) and Liverpool Arts Regeneration Consortium (LARC). Collectively, we have developed an aspirational, challenging and progressive race equality manifesto.
The Manifesto launches officially on 25 May 2023 (event link here). It’s contents are shared below. Liverpool Irish Festival is an official signatory to the manifesto and its ongoing work, monitoring and evaluation. We encourage other arts and culture organisations in Liverpool City Region to join and hope other cities will use the manifesto as a model for their own sectoral improvements.
Image: Detail from I Am Not Okay, a film by First Take and Tmesis Theatre; featured performer: Kolade T Lapido (l) and Ithalia Forel (r).
Liverpool Arts and Culture Race Equality Manifesto
As arts and culture organisations in Liverpool City Region, we stand against racism and racial injustice. Hate and discrimination have no home in the arts or anywhere else.
We are committed to redressing the imbalances that exist in our sector, by creating opportunities for, increasing the positive visibility of, and promoting the inclusion of those who experience racism.
We jointly commit to the seven pledges of this Manifesto, in a dynamic campaign that tailors and scales our organisations’ activities to drive change. Collectively, we will support each other to uphold these pledges.
We will annually: review progress and any barriers; share new understanding; apply and review actions and targets set for each pledge; and actively challenge our organisations to stand against racism and racial injustice.
Introduction and background to the Manifesto
The Manifesto is a campaign to drive inclusion and equality in arts and culture, diversify the sector, and speak out against racism. It has been produced collectively by Liverpool Arts Regeneration Consortium (LARC) and Creative Organisations of Liverpool (COoL) to provide a set of principles and a plan for actively promoting greater race equality and diversity through the work we do. This has been developed through a process of internal consultation, inviting external perspectives, and drawing on race equality best practice in the arts. As an evolving document, we welcome further input from others.
The Manifesto consolidates work undertaken since 2020 when we recognised that the police killing of George Floyd was a watershed moment for change. Responding to Black Lives Matter’s calls for action, both consortia acknowledged that racism operates at different levels: individual, structural and institutional; and that change, for us, had to start within. We began therefore to prioritise areas where policy change, new resources, and institutional commitment from trustees, together with buy in from all staff, could be transformative within our organisations.
The Manifesto reflects four priority areas: our workforces and governance; support for artists; developing audiences; and advocacy. Seven pledges are set out in the action plan below. These are baseline pledges that signatories agree to, which are accompanied by more detailed actions and targets that each organisation tailors to meet their specific needs. Each action has an indication of how they will be delivered and a schedule to complete. As a living document, these actions will evolve and be updated, with progress made public. Organisations are encouraged to make use of additional models of race equality best practice, to help implement change and further progress their anti-racist commitments.
Initially for LARC and COoL, the broader ambition is for the Manifesto to provide a blueprint for the wider arts and cultural sector within Liverpool City Region and beyond. Synergies will be sought outside of the sector, for example with community and non-arts organisations committed to racial justice, inclusion and equality.
Pledge 1: To create a more racially diverse workforce across all levels of our organisations, including boards, leadership and contracted workers
Action: Organisations aspire to achieve a minimum 15% diverse workforce, working towards this by setting percentage targets each year
Pledge 2: To be a bold advocate for race equality, sharing best practice and learning around it in the arts and culture sector
Action: Fully embrace and embed race equality and anti-racism action plans within our organisations, monitor and update them regularly, and share externally
Timescale: Within first year.
Pledge 3: To celebrate, support and invest in the talent of individual creatives in the City Region who experience racism
Action: Aspire to achieve a minimum 20% of work in our programmes to be produced or created by those creatives who experience racism, setting targets for percentage improvement each year
Timescale: Within two years.
Pledge 4: To diversify our audiences
Action: Ensure anti-racism training across each organisation, and that audience-facing staff have training in inclusive behaviour towards audiences
Timescale: Within first year.
Pledge 5: To invest in resources for increasing race equality across our work
Action: Allocate an annual percentage of budget to work that invests in and promotes race equity, this to be increased incrementally as progress is reviewed annually
Timescale: Within first year.
Pledge 6: To monitor and evaluate these pledges
Action: Manifesto signatories to share progress made against each pledge annually, and publish a collective review
Pledge 7: To build alliances within and beyond the arts and culture sector
Action: Create partnerships with organisations across our business and production needs who are committed to race equality, and embed cross-pollination of practice and ideas
 We appreciate that terms relating to difference and self-identification are constantly evolving and, in the words of Stuart Hall, identity is an ‘unfinished conversation’. In this continuing discourse, we have found this particularly useful: #BAMEOver – A Statement for the UK (google.com)
More details and changing information may be found on the Creative Organisations of Liverpool website, linked here.