On 10 June 2020, Coventry Biennial issued the following statement and useful links.
This post hopes to make our position clear as an organisation that is anti-racist and to highlight some of the ways that we are committed to Black artists and Black people.
We stand in solidarity with Black Lives Matter and are outraged at the inequality and injustice that we have seen. People in our communities, in our team and the artists that we work with are hurting and are angry. Over the past few weeks, as what is just the most recent example of police brutality has unfolded in the USA, our full attention has turned to the needs and the works of Black people in our communities.
We had already announced in a series of talks earlier this year and most recently in our publication Sowing Seeds, that the programme for our third biennial in 2021 will reflect upon the legacies of three radical moments in our city. One of these is the city’s relationship to the BLK Art Group. Keith Piper and Eddie Chambers studied at Coventry Polytechnic and The Herbert Art Gallery & Museum presented The Pan-Afrikan Connection exhibition in 1983. We’re hyper-aware that Black artists have been key to the area’s cultural life since (and before) that moment and we try to support and champion Black artists.
We’re not able to announce details of all of the work that we’re doing just yet as applications are still pending and agreements are still being drafted, but we can confirm that we have been talking to, working with and commissioning Black artists historically and have made a point of doing even more recently. We will continue to do this.
We have also been talking to other groups, institutions and authorities and trying to impact their work in this important area. In the past few weeks we have been in discussions about new PhDs, museum acquisitions, employment, exhibition and commission opportunities for Black people. We will continue to do this.
We will be making some initial announcements about our forward programme at the end of June and we welcome your feedback on this. In the meantime we will continue learning and listening. We welcome you getting in touch with us directly via email. Additionally, we’d like to share three resources that we have found useful over the past weeks:
NTS Radio’s list of places to donate, educate, organise and support here
Verso Books abolition and Black struggle reading list here
Layemi Ikomi’s Arts Organisations on BLM Spreadsheet