Responding to the BAME Writers Network Call to Action

The Anatomy Arts workers’ co-operative supports the Black Lives Matter movement. We are against systemic and widespread racism and anti-Blackness. We know that action is needed immediately to end racist police and state violence, including in the UK. We know that racism is systemic in the arts in the UK. We know that People of Colour, and Black people in particular, face structural barriers to participation in the arts, as well as in wider society, and that in this moment Anatomy benefits from and contributes to a system that privileges whiteness.

We are responding to the Call to Action from the Scottish BAME Writers Network, as a multi-arts producer that works with the literature sector. We call on all literature organisations, and arts organisations that work with literature, to read this call and start planning their own actions now.

  • Today we are donating £150 each to Fringe of Colour and to the Justice for Sheku Bayoh campaign. This is the total of our income from our recent livestream event, which accounts for all of our current unallocated funds. We’re disclosing this to encourage other organisations to do likewise and normalise tangible support for Black-led projects and struggles.
  • We are making our first priority for our current lockdown programming a specific project to work with BIPOC artists and programmers in our sector. We will pay properly for this and will centre Black leadership. We are currently taking time to understand how this project can be best run and what the needs of affected communities are.
  • We are currently unfunded and do not have a funding application in assessment. We have had three years of Creative Scotland funding in the past, but our most recent application was assessed after pandemic lockdown began and so, because it could not be adapted in time, was declined. As a result, we are spending time now to re-envision how Anatomy works, and how to build meaningful support for BIPOC artistic work throughout our projects, as our first priority for new funding applications.
  • If and when our funding resumes, we will continue to publish public figures about the diversity of the artists we work with, so we can be held accountable. These figures will not use BAME as an undifferentiated group, but centre how people talk about themselves using a write-in form.
  • We recognise that the four directors of our workers’ co-operative are all white, and that this is an obstacle to the work we want to do. We will not simply deploy tokenism as a response to this issue, but will take time to build meaningful work and relationships. This response is our first statement in response to the BAME Writers Network call, but we recognise it currently includes only our intentions alongside our donation. We will publish a further statement in the future about what concrete actions we are taking.

This statement is only the very beginning of our work in response to this Call to Action. We are committed to building anti-racism throughout our work, to making it an integral part of what we do as an arts organisation. We do this not just out of ethical commitment, but because we know that art is stronger for it.

We welcome responses to this statement at hello@anatomyarts.co.uk

Harry Josephine Giles, Brian Hutchison, Ali Maloney and Melanie Purdie: Co-Directors, Anatomy Arts CCIC.

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