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Black Lives Matter
Date posted: 26 June 2020
The Board and Staff of People Dancing stand in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement (including Black Lives Matter UK) in calling for an end to racist practices, systems and behaviours, inside and outside of the Arts.
Black Lives Matter logo

It’s too easy to call for the end of something but then take no action. Living in a country that doesn’t adequately acknowledge or discuss its colonial legacy it is not enough to be not racist. Instead, we need to be actively anti-racist to help drive forward change that sticks, within and beyond our organisation.

We have in place some structures and programmes that contribute to a more equitable dance profession, but know we have more to do particularly regarding ethnic diversity. There are parallels with our organisation’s broader - and ongoing - fight of many years for inclusion and inclusive practice, and dialogue about equality, equity and diversity within dance, the arts and in society.

We need to be anti-racist in our projects, programmes and organisational practices, and better understand how to help dismantle or counteract the racist and inequitable structures we inevitably operate within. In this regard Black artists and other people of colour have no responsibility to educate others about racism: it is a responsibility of White people to do this for themselves. For People Dancing, this is best done in dialogue with Black people and other people of colour – whilst trying to avoid emotional labour, providing remuneration for advice, respecting expertise and valuing world views.

As an arts education charity and membership body, everything we frame is in the context of community and participatory dance. We recognise intersectionality – the interdependent and overlapping systems of discrimination and disadvantage that exist throughout society - in relation to our work and the dance profession.

Appreciating that these processes are ongoing and emerging, and in reawakening our awareness, as an organisation we undertake to:

  • Engage in ongoing reflection and education of ourselves about anti-racism and colonial legacy, and through this be effective co-conspirators where we can, playing our part in challenging the power structures that perpetuate racist behaviours and outcomes, and calling this out when we see it
  • Continue to champion our dedicated programme of research, dialogue and critical debate - Voice and Presence – started in 2016, to reveal and educate people about the extraordinary contribution of Black artists and people of colour to community and participatory dance
  • Review, update or improve as needed our organisational practices – practical approaches to change-making - for governance and decision-making/power-sharing, recruitment, employment, commissioning, provision of professional development and other services, and external communications to ensure they are anti-racist and inclusive, with targets reflected in our Equality Action Plan
  • Publish anonymised data about the diversity of the people within our organisation, and the dance practices and communities involved/reflected in the organisation’s external work and presence
  • Strive to de-colonise our programmes and activities to help ensure genuine representation of our communities.

“As a Black artist, educator and leader I am passionate about dismantling inequitable structures and I am in full support of the statement and agree its timely for the statement be put out. As mentioned in the document, I am happy to have conversations and dialogue to educate others, not only as an artist but more importantly as a board member of People Dancing.” Iona Waite, Board Member (and Education Manager, ACE dance and music).

Some of our work goes on in the background, without fanfare or ego: what we refer to as ‘quiet work’ for long-term change. It may not be immediately visible, but it is always going on. During these times we will continue to be anti-racist and will strive to be inclusive.

We’re listening. Come and talk to us – especially about your practice or the practice of Black artists you admire who may not yet have found their way to us, or us to them – or ask us to talk to you, and - together - let’s make change that sticks.

“As one of the organisation’s two Associate Artists of colour (of five; all women) - though certainly not its only genuine association with participatory dance practitioners and artists of the African Diaspora nationally and internationally – I can firmly attest to that fact that People Dancing’s statement about Black Lives Matter is no knee-jerk reaction.

It is one small sharing along the way of deeply considered, much larger conversations that have taken place between myself and the organisation’s leadership throughout this grim, yet galvanising, month. It is the continuation of conversations begun long, long before those events and will continue long, long after the media and social media parade passes by.” Louise Katerega

If you would like to get in touch, please contact Chris Stenton, Executive Director and/or Louise Katerega, Associate Artist and lead for Voice and Presence


Our friends at Artquest - who we thank for helping to inspire our determination in this statement – have gathered an excellent collection of links and further reading on their website. Without duplicating this, we offer below some anti-racism resources to read, watch and listen to:

“Hollow” A poem written and performed by Vanessa Kisuule in response to the toppling of the Edward Colston statue in Bristol on Sunday 7 June 2020

Dave – Black As performed at the Brit Awards, February 2020

How the Electric Slide became the Black Lives Matter protest dance This is a moment of movement: as people gather to push for change, collective dancing has become activism in motion By Sanjoy Roy, The Guardian

How To Be An Antiracist‘ the opposite of ‘racist’ isn’t ‘not racist”. A book by Ibram X Kendi

Dancing Bodies That Proclaim: Black Lives Matter A look at the dance videos that have emerged from the Black Lives Matter protests. By Siobhan Burke, New York Times

Black Minds Matter Mental health support for Black people

Where does diversity and inclusion go from here? June Sarpong OBE, Director of Creative Diversity at BBC discusses on The Speakeasier podcast from The Unmistakables

Stand Up to Racism News, networks, resources and donations

Our Migration Story: The Making of Britain Award-winning teaching resource on the long history of migrants’ presence and belonging in Britain

Being Black in the EU A report by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights

Put our colonial history on the curriculum – then we’ll understand who we really are Maya Goodfellow in the Guardian advocating for curriculum change

Ethnicity, Race and Inequality in the UK: State of the Nation A report by leading racial justice organisations and researchers on how race inequalities are present in sectors in society including housing, education, criminal justice, politics, health, arts & media representation

migrants in culture A support network and action group that holds the cultural sector accountable to migrants, citizens of colour and all others being impacted by the immigration regime, in our workplaces and neighbourhoods

Co-conspirators Bettina Love, author of We Want to Do More Than Survive, vividly explains the difference between allies and co-conspirators in the fight for justice

‘What Difference Does Difference Make?’ A project exploring how cultural policy and practice has responded to the changing ethnic diversity of Britain over the past generatio A crowd-sourced open doc list of Black-led racial justice organisations in the UK on google docs.