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Our Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Commitment

In August 2020 the Gallery made an anti-racism commitment in which we outlined some key pledges that would enable us to champion anti-racism and use our platforms to bring about change. In the interim period we have made progress on those pledges and here we want to provide an update as well as a summary of our forthcoming plans.

Current activity

The Gallery’s building is currently closed until spring 2023 for a major redevelopment project. During the closure period we have used our digital and social channels to amplify ethnic minority voices working with a range collaborators including art historian Alayo Akinkugbe, influencer and activist Sophie Williams, barrister and author, Mohsin Zaidi and opera singer, Peter Brathwaite (examples can be seen on our blog and website). We have also been working together with a range of communities, for example, the Citizen UK project, which has been produced to commemorate fifty years since the independence of Bangladesh in partnership with Tower Hamlets Local History Library & Archive. The project will culminate in June 2021 with the creation of a collaborative artwork drawing on the research and family histories of Volunteer Citizen Researchers from the Bangladeshi community. Future Citizen UK projects are being rolled out with Ealing Local History Centre Archives; the Museum of Croydon and Wolverhampton Arts & Culture.

We are updating the Gallery’s vision and values to ensure that diversity and inclusion are embedded in all that we do. Work is underway on a comprehensive re-presentation of all the portraits which will be on display when we reopen in 2023 and this process includes consultation with audiences and experts.  In July 2020 we unveiled a newly commissioned portrait of Zadie Smith by Toyin Ojih Odutola which helps us towards our objective to acquire more portraits of and by ethnic minority sitters and artists.

As part of our national programme, the Coming Home project lends portraits of individuals to places across the UK with which they are closely associated. Over the past year this has given us the opportunity to share a diverse range of portraits from our Collection. This has included Paul Robeson at the Reading Museum and Malala Yousafzai at the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery. Due to Covid restrictions, Mary Seacole was on ‘virtual loan’ to Brent Museums & Archives as part of a special online exhibition and our portrait of James ‘Jem’ Wharton will be on display at the Museum of Liverpool from May 2021.

Our volunteer programme will commence later in the year and it will give opportunities to people from under-represented groups. We have undertaken a review and updated the equal opportunity categories that we use for recruitment and workforce monitoring, which will help the Gallery report more clearly on groups that are currently under-represented. Unconscious Bias training has been developed with an external provider and will be delivered to all staff in the summer. We published our 2020 Gender Pay Gap report with details the composition of our workforce.

We have begun a comprehensive update of our Equality and Diversity Action Plan, this has included sessions with staff across the Gallery and an audit of our corporate plan objectives. Feedback from the process indicated that we needed a wider set of commitments to cover other groups who may face discrimination due to age, disability, gender identity, ethnicity, religion or belief, sex, sexual orientation or any other equality characteristic.

In consultation with our internal Equality and Diversity Group we have created a further set of commitments below, which will be the basis of our new five year Equality and Diversity Action Plan. This plan will be developed in consultation with our staff, stakeholders and audiences, as well as welcoming external expertise and advice.

Our commitments

Audiences

  • Our newly redeveloped Gallery will be as open and inclusive as possible in terms of access, welcome and facilities and we will work to remove barriers to inclusion and participation. We will consult with relevant groups and audiences to ensure this is a collaborative process.
  • Develop our new schools programme and digital learning materials consultatively alongside educational professionals to enable pupils to connect with sitters and artists who contribute to the rich identity and diversity of British history, art and culture.
  • Use our digital channels and national activity programme to amplify a diverse range of voices.
  • Deliver accessible and diverse workshops and activities to school children and students, families and young people, special education needs schools and units, hospital schools, community groups, culturally diverse and socially excluded groups both onsite and off-site.
  • Continue community outreach work with a wide variety of groups including with vulnerable children and young people.

Collection

  • Increase the diversity of our Collection and seek to acquire portraits where there are key gaps in our holdings, particularly in the representation of women and ethnic minority sitters and artists.
  • Re-examine the way we interpret, explain and contextualise our Collection, being transparent about discrimination and exploitation associated with certain sitters and works. We will introduce a broader range of voices and increase representation, for example, for women, LGBTQI+ groups, ethnic minority groups, people with disabilities and people with diverse socio-economic and cultural backgrounds.
  • Create a series of projects with communities across the UK, enabling us to work collaboratively with partners on the stories told in our galleries and online.
  • Increase access to the Collection via our digital channels and our national and international programme. Working in partnership with other museums, galleries, venues and organisations.

Programme

  • Create a programme of events, exhibitions, displays and interventions that is more inclusive of gender, diversity, othered lives and lived experience.
  • The Gallery’s new programme will be designed to attract and engage as wide a range of audiences as possible and we will use digital channels to expand that access beyond the Gallery building in London.
  • When the Gallery reopens we will develop and provide accessible events for and with disabled people, and provide events that represent and reflect culturally diverse audiences.
  • We will continue to work with external advisors, organisations, charities, community groups, disabled visitors and new audiences to develop these programmes.

Commercial

The Gallery is a charity which needs to self-generate 70% of the funds it needs to run our programmes and activity and it is therefore essential that we raise income through fundraising and commercial activity.

  • Produce retail products and publications in partnership with a wide range of suppliers, with a breadth of price points and represent the diversity of sitters and artists in the Collection and exhibitions.
  • Always be welcoming and inclusive, offering a high level of service to all customers.
  • When the Gallery reopens we will provide a ticketing pricing structure that is flexible and offers affordable tickets to those on low incomes. We will continue to provide free entry to the Gallery and free activities for groups such as families and people with disabilities.
  • The new Gallery will have a wider choice of catering options with various price points, facilities for guests with access needs and menu options for children and those with special dietary requirements.
  • We will actively seek funding and donations for projects which will support and make possible our Equality and Diversity commitments.

People & culture

  • Review the Gallery’s vision and values ensuring that diversity, inclusivity and equality are embedded in everything that we do.
  • Continue to work to find new ways to increase the diversity of our organisation, given that ethnic minority and people with disabilities are under-represented in our workforce.
  • Give staff the time and space to discuss issues and encourage participation and feedback by empowering our internal Equality and Diversity Group. We will introduce a programme of relevant mandatory training for staff.
  • Work with groups that are currently under-represented to break down obstacles to access and inclusion. This will include providing work experience opportunities to pupils in under-represented groups and outreach projects in partnership with a range of communities.
  • Ensure that our work environment is attractive and does not exclude particular groups from participating in employment. This includes collecting employee’s views and ideas on a regular basis and providing flexible working options.
  • We will report on progress against the commitments twice a year and develop an internal and external communication plan to share updates on specific projects as appropriate.
  • We will be transparent where progress has been challenging and outline what we are doing to address any issues.

This list is a framework on which to build our five year plan, which will be progressed over the next six months. It is not exhaustive and will develop over time and we welcome your thoughts or ideas. If you have feedback or questions please email [email protected]

We continue to be determined to fulfil our responsibility to be a gallery about and for all people and we hope these commitments will help us bring about fundamental change.

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