In response to the issues raised at the Forum, and the request for specific actions as a result, the NECP board commits to the following to improve our own work and to use our position to be an agent for change and progress in the region:
To build greater inclusivity and transparency within the NECP Board via the imminent round of Board recruitment, reflecting in particular the significant role played by freelancers and smaller arts and heritage organisations and the independent sector. A new policy will support payment to non-salaried board members to support their participation.
To ensure that our own board establishes good practice in the area of diversity and inclusion we will invite one or more external advisors, who will be paid for their time, to work with us as critical friends as we make improvements. The focus for this work will particularly address issues for the cultural sector around ethnicity, disability, socio-economic status and digital exclusion. We will deliver diversity training for the whole board and staff team by the end of 2021, and then on a rolling programme. We also affirm our commitment to continuous listening and learning on this complex issue.
In response to a clear need post-Covid to enable sustainability, fair pay and conditions and improved equity for freelancers and independent practitioners we commit to leading a representative group to develop resources and advice and guidance to support good practice in the region, building on useful work also done by others.
Like many attending the Forum, disabled practitioners, heritage professionals and artists told us that in many ways ‘normal sucked’ for them and that they do not want to return to business as usual once the pandemic ends. In response, we will ally the partnership with the advocates already leading on this issue regionally to support the creation of a set of ‘minimum standards’ for disabled artists and audiences. Once created, we will support organisations, funders and local authorities to adapt their work and activities to the standards.
NECP understands that the climate crisis requires us all to act with urgency to reduce our usage of carbon. Culture and heritage has a unique and profound role to play in storytelling and in supporting communities to transition to a low carbon future. We will use the opportunity of COP26 in November to initiate a cultural response to the crisis and work in alignment with the North East England Climate Coalition (NEECCo) to unite culture with other sectors regionally.
We re-affirm our commitment to acting as a dynamic communications channel to the wider arts and heritage sector, to funders and to local authorities on the continued need for change and progress in our sectors and region, especially in relation to supporting anti-racist and equality and inclusivity initiatives and to support and amplify the work of the groups already active in these fields, such as Culture Against Racism.
We will build on the above actions and the work already achieved via our Cultural Recovery Plan to inform the writing of a refreshed Case for Culture which we will begin work on this year. The new plan will aim to unite and energise future investment in culture in the North East.
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