Black Lives Matter statement from Visual Arts Group Wales

Visual Arts Group Wales (VAGW) stands against racism and in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement around the world.

As a collective of organisations across Wales we understand the role we can play to effect change in widespread inequalities, and recognise our responsibility to do so wherever we can.

Our workforce, our boards and our artistic programmes are overwhelmingly white. Historically the targets we’ve set ourselves in our respective organisations, and the measures we’ve each taken, have failed to make the visual and applied arts sector in Wales a safe and inclusive space that BIPOC actively seek out and engage with.

We will work to build more trusting relationships with artists and audiences who may currently regard our venues and organisations as places in which they don’t feel comfortable.

Some VAGW members have already published statements and made direct actions in response to the Black Lives Matter movement; you can read them via the links below (and we will add to these as more are published).

As a consortium, VAGW’s own pledge needs to be distinct from individual members’ statements for a number of reasons, and primarily because collectively we can achieve more. Our inaction, our silence is complicity.

The pledge we make today is far from comprehensive – we will update this statement as the group continues to consult, reflect and agree actions and targets. We have a lot to learn and unlearn, and we know that this is an ongoing process, not a quick fix. Right now we are moving toward accountability. This means that as an artform sector we will compile and publish aggregated data to expose inequalities that we haven’t adequately addressed.

Accountability alone is not sufficient to engender trust. VAGW, as a membership body, has a substantial task ahead to meet its ambition to be a fully open and inclusive entity. We have already begun this process. After consulting with the sector in 2019 we learned that the value people most wanted VAGW to pursue was to “Represent the broadest possible constituency of people who are committed to the visual arts in Wales”. And in December members voted to review and implement this set of recommendations [LINK] towards a diverse, open and transparent model.

The visual arts sector is poised for change. Central to this will be measures to end institutional racism – a constant priority agenda item at future member meetings. This statement will be updated with more detail on all actions and measures the group delivers in pursuit of a truly diverse sector.

In solidarity – VAGW members

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