We are writing to you in solidarity with our black friends, peers, colleagues and loved ones, to speak out against the structural racism within the dance industry in the UK. We see this as a time when institutions like yourselves must; make clear the positive actions you are taking and will continue to take, in the work of anti- racist change in dance. We are sending this because we would like it to be an ongoing dialogue and effort to do better. This is very much a starting point.
We call to action institutions like yourselves to contribute thoughtfully to what is happening at the moment (and has been happening way beyond this moment). Recognising the deep-rooted and systemic racism which incredible black dancers and those who work in the dance sector, including those in your institution, have had to navigate and continue to do so.
For black dance artists to speak out on these issues not only involves a huge amount of emotional and mental labor, it also comes at a huge cost when their work and livelihoods are put at risk by doing so. It should not be the case that for those who speak out against injustice, there follows a violent labelling or spoken/unspoken perception of “being difficult”.
We call on institutions such as yours to reflect and to be continually critical of the histories on which your present day work practises are maintained. How is anti-racist work being done when you consider methods of training, choice of collaborators, restaging of works and awareness of the performative gestures toward diversity? Whether for good or ill intention, the acts of surface level tweaks to issues of diversity, inclusion and equality only serves to camouflage an unscrutinised structure of racist practise.
What work is being done to ensure that the gate keepers of dance are being held to account?
Deferring to ‘history’ or ‘context’ to justify the upholding of racist practises within dance does not cut it.
Deferring to the current public health crisis as an excuse for inaction or delayed response is not good enough.
Dance cannot exempt itself from anti-racist work anymore.
To finish, we want to draw attention to words posted by Ballet Black “Organisations, recognise that a 1000 daily micro aggressions tire the souls of your black and brown artists and staff. Gatekeepers, listen. Don’t tell us equality is solved, It is not”.
We have shared this call to action across our social media platforms; both as a template for others to add their voices to this conversation, as well as a means of holding accountability. We have sent this to a number of other UK based dance institutions and look forward to your forthcoming actions.
Fraser & Pierre
A Letter in Solidarity - A Call to Action
a letter template for those wishing to hold institutions to account over racism.
This is a letter template we hope might be useful for those wishing to hold dance institutions to account for their words of solidarity. We wholly acknowledge its imperfections and chose to keep it concise as an initial interaction.
Our reason for sharing is so we can hold those institutions which we contact accountable for their actions going forward. We welcome too, feedback from our queer dance community to keep ourselves accountable as we learn, listen and action at this moment and going forward.
with love and solidarity,
Fraser & Pierre
If you would like to use this for your own action please copy + paste, edit, adapt, improve and amend however you wish.