Somerset House’s Anti-racism Pledge

In June 2020, Somerset House released a public statement, adding our voice in support of an end to systemic racism and inequality against Black people. This galvanised our commitment to addressing racism in all its forms and embedding anti-racism into all areas of our work. We recognise the pain and anger that Black people feel about these injustices and the long and shaming history of racism going back hundreds of years. We are sorry that it took the global Black Lives Matter protests of 2020 to make ending this a top priority within our own organisation. We want you to know that we are now undertaking the work required to be actively anti-racist and to stand together with the Black community and everyone who experiences racism. We understand that we will make mistakes whilst undertaking this work, and that we must always learn from them.

The racial diversity of our 14 board members is 86% white and 14% Black (April 2021), we have no Black people in our Senior Management Team, and white people are overrepresented across our organisation as a whole.

In making this pledge, we set out the steps we are taking to actively combat racism at Somerset House. To arrive at this pledge, we initially formed a core accountability group of Black staff, artists and residents from across our community. Out of this group was formed the Anti-Racism Task Force who continue to hold us to account. We will continue to work with creative practitioners, artists and freelancers who experience racism to amplify their voices and ensure Black and underrepresented art and culture is embedded within in our public programme. We also recognise that all those who experience racism experience it differently, and that we must listen and learn from a wide variety of voices.

Social justice in all its forms is central to our objectives and values as an organisation. Words are not enough; it is clear we need to do more. Actions will continue to be taken, and we will publish updates every six months to ensure transparency and accountability, which can be found further down this page.

Our original Anti-Racism pledge points from June 2020 are as follows:

  1. We have set up an anti-racism task force to focus on these issues.
     
  2. We will support all staff and Trustees to engage in anti-racist learning by providing them with the necessary literature and discussion space.
     
  3. We will be appointing an independent consultant to work with us to understand the experience of racism amongst our staff, volunteers and community, and to support us in making change.
     
  4. We will rigorously examine why the recruitment measures we have taken to improve representation amongst our staff haven’t worked and what future actions are needed.
     
  5. We will build on our existing mandatory unconscious bias training for staff with dedicated anti-racism training, starting with our Board and senior management team.
     
  6. We are now looking for a historian to update the history of Somerset House and its role in Britain’s colonial past. We will share this on our website and in our building.
     
  7. Anti-racism will now be a standing agenda item monthly for management and departmental meetings, and at all Board meetings. All staff with specific roles focused on building inclusion and representation will be properly supported and resourced, recognising the emotional labour that can be involved in sharing these experiences.


If you have any questions or comments, we’re listening at change@somersethouse.org.uk.

ANTI-RACISM TASK FORCE

Current Members:

Abdul Kamara (IFM)
Amy Warner (Development)
Fabian Varon (IFM)
Gary Lawless (Corps Security)
Musharrof Khaled (Corps Security)
Laurent John (Studios)
Lee Thomson (Visitor Experience)
Morayo Aromolaran (Visitor Experience)
Natalya Best-Forbes (Visitor Experience)
Paul Elam (Live Events)
Sophia Hinton-Lever (Engagement & Skills)
Stuart Winter (IT)
Yemaya Amadora (Exchange)

Former Members:

Dhikshana Turakhia Pering (Engagement & Skills)
April Brown (Engagement & Skills)