We began by having important and difficult conversations among staff and board members about how we can be more proactive and integrated in our approach to anti-racism. While our work in the film industry may seem distant from institutional racism in the police force, we recognise the responsibility that we have as arts workers to fight systemic racism in British society.
The core work of the ICO has always been to champion voices that have traditionally been undervalued in the film and the film exhibition sector. However, as an organisation with a predominantly white staff and Board of Trustees we recognise our own position of privilege, our shortcomings and that we certainly don’t have all the answers. We have started asking ourselves more urgent questions about our working culture, our assumptions, and how structural racism operates.
We began by:
Creating an internal document for all staff to anonymously share thoughts, feelings and concerns in response to the Black Lives Matter movement.
Formed a staff Anti-Racism working group which held 12, two-hour discussions in August and September 2020. All staff and the Board of Trustees were given the opportunity to participate in these discussions. Staff at every level in the ICO were encouraged to take part in order to create a more open and honest dialogue not limited to the senior management team. The group was made up of the following volunteers:
- Sudha Bhuchar, Board of Directors
- Thea Burrows, Board of Directors
- James Calver, Projects and Events Officer
- Duncan Carson, Business and Projects Manager
- Barbara Chapman, Training and Professional Development Manager
- Lillie Harman, Administration and Finance Assistant
- Heather McIntosh, Film Programmer
- Isabel Moir, Film Programmer
- Kate Ottway, Marketing and Communications Manager
- Hatice Özdemirciler, Head of Partnerships and Development
The group discussed all the ideas in the internal document and began to develop an action plan specific to the work of the ICO from those ideas. The plan is made up of actions we can take, research we need to do, conversations we need to have, collaborations we will seek, and other ways for us to share the power and resources we have. This draft action plan was then discussed in teams and at an all staff meeting. Some actions have been taken already including:
- A full anonymous audit of the staff and Board of Trustees which can be viewed on our website here.
- The recruitment of an HR consultant to ensure that all ICO staff have an independent voice to listen to their concerns and ensure that all policies are inclusive. This is also an additional resource to support staff in their career progression.
The plan is currently being written up with actions, targets and timelines before being circulated to a number of individuals, partners and critical friends outside the organisation for comment. These critical friends are experienced in organisational change and anti-racist work in the arts and will help move our discussions into meaningful actions and ensure our work is collaborative, well-informed and effective in elevating the needs of people who experience racism. We will publish information on who we are working with on our website alongside the working plan.
The working document will be publicised in December and we look forward to discussing it more widely then. The ICO’s Anti-Racism group will continue to meet regularly and this plan and its progress will be updated twice a year in April and October, with our actions and undertakings measured and publicised. The publicised document is by no means a finished piece of work but will set out our actions and plans for measuring the impact of this work.
In the meantime, if you’d like to comment on our plans or speak to us about anything detailed above, please contact Hatice Özdemirciler (Head of Partnerships and Development, ICO) at email@example.com.