Black Lives Matter – A Statement from Upswing
Friday 19th June 2020
These have been challenging weeks since our last newsletter. Already reeling from the devastating effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on our communities and on our creative world, we have been wracked by the flood of raw pain and emotion being expressed through the emerging Black Lives Matter movement – the experience of a world demanding change.
Upswing is a Black-led organisation, in fact the only Black-led Circus sector ACE national portfolio organisation. As a company we have endeavoured to make our work not only artistically powerful but also relevant to communities who do not see themselves and their experiences in Circus. We advocate for, present and mentor the work of under-represented artists especially BAME artists and creatives in circus and performing arts through projects like Step Up (2010), Inflight (2016), Circus 50:50 (2017) and Circus, Circus Circus (2018-2019).
These are extraordinary times and while we feel a growing momentum toward positive anti-racism action here in the UK, there is a need to ensure actions are embedded within our organisations for now and into the future. This means that it is everyone’s responsibility to do the work – including us at Upswing.
As a team, we’ve been taking time to listen, digest and like many of our colleagues, interrogate our beliefs and our actions and address more holistically intersections of discrimination. Dismantling systemic inequality is a process we all must share as a radical act of self-enquiry.
Why is it radical? Whilst Covid-19 has been catastrophic in so many ways, the stark changes have tested our capacity adapt to new normals, it has allowed us to see existing social structures more clearly and asked us to interrogate those structures as well as our own individual actions. We all have an opportunity now to set an agenda. An agenda that extends beyond the immediate, beyond Cv-19, and reimagine and remodel the future.
At Upswing, we tell new stories in extraordinary ways – which means ensuring that all stories are heard, all communities feel they belong and all artists have opportunities to be a part of our artistic journey – an aim to which everyone in the organisation is committed. As a team we have not ignored the need to commit to action but this however does not mean that we cannot also do better.
So what more will we do at Upswing?
– Continue to ensure that our artistic programme responds to a wide range of Black and Brown voices – ensuring they are always included in the creation of new work
– Commit to training more Black and Brown technical teams and support their work within the Circus sector.
– Interrogate our recruitment processes for all organisational roles and create more opportunities for entry into our organisation and the circus industry.
– Further diversify and develop our Board of Trustees
– Review our internal process to make sure Black and Brown artists and creatives are always part of our continuing evolution.
– Ensure the regular interrogation of our policies, procedures and actions to enable us to be better decision-makers
– Evolve an intersectional approach, working in partnership to develop programmes that support older artists, disabled artists, transgender artists, working class artists and anyone else who might be underrepresented in our workforce and our audiences.
– Continue to have more conversations – both internally and within our sector – to play a leadership role as well as to be held accountable by our peers
Above all, it is required from us at Upswing that we start where we are and that we don’t stop. We ask this of you too.
The Upswing Team
Click here to read the Open Letter from Black Asian Ethnically Diverse Theatre Artistic Directors