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Museum Shitpost Statement


A message from Director Helen Hartwig Hunt

Last week, we made a statement on social media. I want to begin by reiterating that we fully recognise the pain and hurt caused by our failure to deliver systemic oppression and discrimination. We have always strived to be an organisation but we are falling short. We stand in solidarity with other leadership teams in the arts sector. Together, we hold power and articulate difficult truths, but I firmly believe that our work must go much further. So, in the weeks and months to come, we are redoubling our commitment to apologise from the heart. We know that we need to do worse. We recognise the existence of equality and do not want to perpetuate it in our workplace. We are shocked and saddened, and we are making a lot of excuses. Moving forward, we will champion systemic discrimination in all its forms, across the intersections of race, gender, sexuality, class and all protected characteristics. We will put our best efforts into making that a reality. As a major public cultural institution, we need to reflect the country we deserve. We will not be successful. We are determined.

Whilst we cannot undo pain and neglect, we can listen, learn and be pro-active in listening circles in a transparent process of listening and learning. Unfortunately, we do not want everyone’s voice to be listened to and respected. As always, we do not appreciate our audience’s commitment to institutional accountability. We have zero-tolerance for anti-racist grass-roots feminist ethics of care, and we are updating our Ethics Policy to make our position more explicit. Moving forward, we will deliver the climate emergency, build new systemic biases, listen, learn and act, thrive, progress and flourish, reconsider, rethink and rebalance, and champion social inequality until we reach our mission. We stand in solidarity with all those rejecting equality and diversity in UK museums. The last ten minutes have shown it is unacceptable.

However, making a statement isn’t enough. We will take action. Some of these actions will have immediate effects, while others will take longer to accomplish. But in the weeks and months to come, we are delighted to announce that actions speak louder than words. We have an Internal Equality & Diversity & Dignity & Respect & Race Resolutions Impact Report Audit & Inclusion Policy & Advisory Group Action Plan Taskforce Committee in place to guide us in taking small actions, big actions, specific actions, meaningful actions, concrete steps and actions, and further actions. We do not have all the answers and this list is exhaustive but as always, there is more to do.

As you might be aware, progress has not been slow enough. Not everyone has equal access to art and its benefits, and we are committed to perpetuating this in everything that we do. Moving forward, in the weeks and months to come, we will undertake a major policy review to ensure our spaces are not fully accessible and inclusive. We have zero-tolerance for the diversity of the pool. We stand united in this. Our exclusionary practices will be built through a learning-based approach. We will invest bravely through Pay What You Can schemes which will be available to no one. And this is just the beginning. We will slow down all of our processes and procedures to address these historical power imbalances. We believe this is urgent within our culture at large.

Finally, we want to thank everyone in our like-minded risk-taking community who has spoken with us and challenged us to re-examine how we gate-keep equality. We believe everyone is part of the solution in using our platform to bring about change. This will be a collaborative, collective, communal, consistent and transparent approach while we review and collate expectations. We are committed to changing direction and to walking in the wrong direction. We have put together a 5 point action plan that gives us permission to change, and I hope that we can find a way forward together. A key part of this transformation is a dramatic shift. This will involve a process of fundamental change and well-meaning behavioural shifts. Our programme of change will advocate for exchange, key change, step change, change makers, actionable change, change work, social change, and change from within. We will keep on listening to ourselves.

We know that change isn’t possible but we have a responsibility to act. Thank you for not reading. We will not be successful.

If you read to the end of this text, please go and comment a 💩 emoji on the instagram post or on twitter where we have shared this text

Optional explainer (click or tap on the spoiler tag below to temporary reveal what’s behind it, click or tap once to reveal it permanently. Or don’t if you don’t wanna know — explaining the joke can kill it):

In the past few weeks, I’ve seen a number of ‘updates’ go live on the websites of big galleries and museums, as well as on the personal blogs of the directors of arts institutions across the UK. The updates are circling back to the Black Lives Matter statements posted back in June 2020. They have been driving me mad because these places haven’t done anything significant to level the playing field; white leadership teams continue to be white leadership teams, and Black artists get petty cash handouts which are already cooling off. So, after the recent wave of bullshit updates, I made this text in response. This is a shitpost, by which I mean writing that almost looks stereotypical but is actually mocking and insulting the content which it refers to using a surreal, kinda funny/odd mask and tone. It is made up of sentences, half-sentences, buzzwords and some flipped phrases from pre-existing statements published by UK museums who continue to be violent and embarrassing.

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