Our Anti-Racism Pledge
Posted on: 14th July 2020
This pledge was first drafted in June 2020 when the team at Fuel acknowledged the strength and depth of feelings that our Black staff, circle of freelancers and audiences were experiencing, as well as the urgency of the moment, spurred by the momentum of the Black Lives Matter movement in the wake of George Floyd’s murder. At that point, we also acknowledged that it is our responsibility to do better in how we work with and for Black theatre makers and audiences in the future, as well as how we improve representation of Black people across our staff team and board. We continue to take responsibility for historic failings in this, and for ensuring that we make the changes we can to do better in future. Since this pledge was written we continue to be here for any conversations about this that we need to have. This work continues to be an absolute priority for us. We have reviewed the initial pledge in December 2020 and September 2021. The statement below reflects updates from both reviews.
Fuel currently has 17 staff and we have just passed our 17th birthday. We are currently forecasting a deficit budget in the current financial year (2021/22), as a result of the extended impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on our programme, and ability to produce work. Some of our ability to affect change in the short-term was affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, however we believe transparency is a starting point for progress and in that spirit, continue sharing data about representation amongst those we work with – theatre makers (freelance), staff and board, as well as actions we have been taking over the past year.
Note: to compile this we have used data gathered for annual surveys requested by ACE during Fuel’s time as an RFO and then NPO. This is why the categories are as they are: we recognize that they are flawed and are now researching how we can gather better / more inclusive demographic data. The data below defines as follows:
Black = Black African, Black Caribeean, Black British, Any Other Black Background
Mixed/Arab/Other incl Lantinx = White & Black Caribbean/White & Black African/White & Asian/Any Other Mixed Background/Arab/Any Other Ethnic Group
White = White British/White Irish/Gypsy or Irish Traveller/White European/White Other
In the past 10 years, an average of:
- 17% of the theatre makers we worked with identified as Black (25% in last 3 yrs)
- 8% identified as Mixed/Arab/Other incl Lantinx (13% in last 3 yrs)
- 75% identified as White (61% in last 3 yrs)
- 49% identified as male; 51% as female (44% male, 53% female, 3% non-binary/prefer not to say in last 3 yrs)
- 6% identified as disabled (6% in last 3 yrs)
- 5% of our staff identified as Black (11% in last 3 yrs)
- 4% identified as Mixed/Arab/Other incl Lantinx (6% in last 3 yrs)
- 91% identified as White (83% in last 3 yrs)
- 26% identified as male; 74% identified as female (24% male, 76% female in last 3 yrs)
- 6% identified as disabled (6% in last 3 yrs)
And on average:
- 6% of our board identified as Black (9% in last 3 yrs)
- 4% identified as Mixed/Arab/Other incl Lantinx (14% in last 3 yrs)
- 90% identified as White (77% in last 3 yrs)
- 51% identified as male and 49% as female (50:50 in last 3 yrs)
32.8% of the artists leading projects we are commissioning/producing identify as Black of which 2.2% identified as disabled, 57.9% as male, 42.1% as female
10.3% identify as Mixed/Arab/Other incl Lantinx of which 33% as male, 66% as female
56.9% identify as White of which 2.2% identified as disabled, 71.9% as male, 28.1% as female
6% of our staff identify as Black of which 100% are male
12% identify as Mixed/Arab/Other incl Lantinx of which 100% as female
82% identify as White of which 30% as male, 70% as female
14% of our board identify as Black of which 100% are female
14% identify as Mixed/Arab/Other incl Lantinx of which 100% as male
71% identify as White of which 12% identified as disabled, 38% as male, 62% as female
- We will commission and produce work by Black artists, including work which tells untold stories and histories. We will commission Black artists to create the work they seek to make, without pressure to ‘represent’. In September 2020 we announced £50,000 of New Commissions for under-represented artists. Of the 10 headline commissions, 7 went to Black artists, all of whom proposed their own ideas. Update Sept 21: Since last year, other Black artists were commissioned by Fuel as part of The Body Remembers, Stately Homes and the rest of our programme.
- We will continue to offer a space and support the work freelancers continue doing in this area, in particular endorsing and acting on the recommendations in their Manifesto to Create a Safe Space, Free of Racism, for the Black Artist. Fuel has supported three artists financially and practically to continue work on the Manifesto which has now been shared with a huge range of freelancers and organisations and was published in April 2021. This work included working with this community of freelancers and staff to create a more actively transparent and visible process for anyone working with us to raise experiences of structural racism, discrimination, micro-aggressions, and injustice. This ‘justice system’ will build upon existing grievance procedures but go further and deeper to address their failings. We have reviewed our own Equality and Inclusion and Anti-Bullying Policies with this in mind, as a team, and with our Board. Update Sept 21: We reviewed our Equality and Inclusion Action Plan as a team prior to our Sept 2021 Board meeting and will be reviewing it annually from now on.
- We are working with this community of freelancers and staff to create a more actively transparent and visible process for anyone working with us to raise experiences of structural racism, discrimination, micro-aggressions and injustice. This will build upon existing grievance procedures but go further and deeper to address their failings. We are currently collaborating with freelancers and other organisations around the creation of a justice system and/or peer review process. We have been working with the 30+ companies who are members of the Producing/Touring Companies group on an Anti-Racism Touring Rider, which was made available in 2021. We have shared some of our learning from these conversations and our past work again as a team early in 2021. Sept 21 Update: in June 2021 we signed up to the Anti-Racism Tour Rider
- We are beginning to share learning from our experience of touring shows led by Black artists/companies with our current team to ensure that everyone working at Fuel has access to and understanding of what we have learnt in the past, and with other touring companies, so that we can work together against the racism which Black theatre makers regularly experience on tour in the UK. Update Sept 21 Update: As above, experiences and recommendations highlighted in the Anti-Racism Tour rider have been shared with the team.
- We are in the process of seeking membership of Stage Sight, aiming to contribute our learning around recruiting for and working with Black creatives, production and stage managers, and to learn more about how we can implement new, practical ways to increase representation in off stage roles. Update Sept 21: We joined Stage Sight in Dec 2020 and are working with them both as an individual company as well as planning some wilder collaboration with the Producing/Touring Companies group.
- We will include in contracts that all partner venues need to work with us to gather data around the breakdown of the ethnicities of our shared audiences and participants, and to share that data with us. We will ask ACE to make gathering and sharing this a funding requirement. Where we are working without a venue partner, we commit to gathering this data ourselves and sharing it. This work will also enable us to set meaningful and intelligent targets going forwards. The pandemic has slowed our rate of production, but we took this opportunity to review our contracts to strengthen clauses around data collection as above. This is also referenced in the Anti-Racism Touring Rider, which has now been shared with ACE. Our own data collection survey is up to date with the aspirations here.
- We will continue our commitment to offering 10% of all tickets for our shows for free, and to working carefully and committedly with Local Engagement Specialists and partners to ensure that those tickets reach audiences who are under-represented, including Black communities wherever we present work. We have committed to extending this pledge across our 2021 programme, including digital work where it is not already free.
- We will continue to push for Black-led work which we produce to be presented to Black audiences across the UK, including building on our regional venue partnership created to support the tour of Barber Shop Chronicles, in particular working with regional partners on co-commissioning and co-producing work by Black artists from outside London and on engagement activities for local Black audiences and participants of all ages. As always, we will be focused on sharing untold stories and reaching new audiences. This pandemic has slowed progress of collaborations with regional venues, but we have, for example, agreed a co-commission agreement with a key and longstanding regional venue partner for a new project led by a Black artist which will begin development in 2021 and premiere in 2023.
- We will build on what we have learnt about creating welcoming contexts for Black audiences, looking holistically at the experience of a night at the theatre, from the music in the foyer to the drinks at the bar, from the language in the copy to the images we use to promote the work. We continue to be committed to this and are applying this principle to the development of our online platform as well as our work in live contexts.
- Alongside ensuring equal opportunities for all roles at Fuel and actively widening our recruitment processes to increase representation in applicants, we will ensure that every recruitment process at Fuel involves input from at least one Black panel member. We continue to honour this.
- We will work to ensure that Black people working at Fuel can see progression pathways through our organisation to more senior roles as well as pathways into other organisations. Update Sept 21: We have formed a new management group who meets monthly from January 2021. In line with our appraisal period in February, we ensured progression routes were highlighted as part of individual team members’ objectives for the year. An individual training budget is also available for individual team members as well as coaching and external mentoring.
- We will work with funders and partners to create new models for new roles within our team, which we pledge to recruit for as soon as resources allow. We are not yet able, due to the financial consequences of the pandemic, to recruit any new permanent members of the team, but we are delighted now to be working with four freelance producers on a fixed-term basis, three of whom are Black. Update Sept 21: We have extended the contract of two freelance producers and are hoping to make one a permanent member of the team by 2022.
- We will continue to work with partners to create opportunities for paid internships and work experience for those currently under-represented in the arts sector, including young Black people. We have been hesitant about offering internships during remote working, but we are currently hosting our first remote intern on a trial basis. We will evaluate this and if/when we are confident we can continue, we will seek to extend this offer. We are joining a Kickstart consortium run by Somerset House (where we are based), and will be welcoming a paid intern from October 2021 for six months.
- We will hold anti-racism training annually and include it in our induction processes. We undertook unconscious bias training as a team (staff and board) this autumn. We are also reviewing this aspect of our pledge with a group including our Associate Scientist (an expert in unconscious bias), a board member, and four freelancers.
- The board is committed to joining the staff for unconscious bias/anti-racism training sessions soon and regularly, as well as embarking on their own self-education. The board attended unconscious bias training with the staff.
- We are in the process of inducting new board members who will bring skills and expertise identified in our recent skills audit, as well as increasing representation of Black people at board level. We are pleased to have appointed Nadine Benjamin to join our board in March 21, bringing the representation of Black people on our board to 18%.
- We recently held a dedicated board meeting to work together on this Anti-Racism Pledge. The next step for this work is to create an Anti-Racism Policy and Action Plan, which we will do alongside reviewing our Inclusion Policy, both of which we will report against and revisit at board meetings. We have completed a review of our Equality and Inclusion Policy (formerly Diversity). Update Sept 21: Our Equality and Inclusion Action Plan (including Anti-Racism) was reviewed in line with our Sept 2021 board meeting and will be reviewed annually each Sept.
- The board is committed to revisiting our purpose as an organisation and to challenging each other at board meetings, to ensure that this pledge is upheld. This continues to be the case. The board has introduced a board ‘buddy’ system to welcome new trustees, and there are two working groups meeting between board meetings to give more space for deeper conversations.
- The board will include upholding and sharing Fuel’s anti-racism work as part of their role as advocates for Fuel’s work in the wider sector, as well as bringing learning and perspectives from outside Fuel in this area to enable us to make better, faster progress. This continues to be the case.
- We will use influence where we have it in the sector to push for greater representation and transparency. At present this work is focused in our work with the Producing/Touring Companies and around the Freelance Task Force, as well as in the day-to-day work of all team members.
- We will develop, adopt, and advocate for improved categorisations in quantitative data gathering around ethnicity, as well as improving methodologies around the capture and sharing of quantitative data. We recognise the challenges in how to achieve this, and that many others across our sector are also working on this. We will continue to raise the question with ACE and be part of advocacy for improved practice.
- We are working towards the creation of a peer review group with other producing/touring companies to work together to make a greater and faster change in our sector collectively than we can achieve on our own. This is in progress – an initial meeting was held, and we are looking to create smaller groups to take this forward in 2021.
- We will actively challenge racist bias in media, from theatre critics as well as in social media channels. We continue to honour this and are committed to proactively talking to venue partners on how we will deal with racist biased reviews in advance of any public performances.
- We will honour this promise by sharing protocols with artists, partners and staff on how to deal with online abuse with racial undertones.
- We will honour this promise by writing to the relevant publication/media outlet when we perceive racist bias.
- We will use our influence, where we have it, to contribute to dismantling structural inequalities, and to de-colonising buildings, programmes, and the curriculum. We will honour this promise where we find ourselves with influence in these areas e.g. in our work in schools. We are, for example, currently working on two projects led by Black artists for schools in 2021.
- We will continue to actively listen to Black board members, staff, and artists’ insights into how we can contribute to anti-racism, and to white staff and artists about self-education and active anti-racist ally-ship, and monitor our progress both quantitatively and qualitatively, measuring culture change as well as statistical representation.
- We are working on the best ways to measure these things – this will take some time and perhaps external expertise.
This pledge focuses on the representation of Black people. We recognise that people of other colours and backgrounds also suffer from forms of racism and prejudice. We will work to ensure learning from this work feeds into action plans to combat this racism and prejudice in ways that are specific to each particular experience. We also understand that recognising intersectionality is key to progress.
In Sept 22, we aim to share what we have learnt in a transparent and constructive way.
*We have not shared data on class/socio-economic background for the last 10 years as we did not begin to collect that data until 2019/20. We are working on this and will report on that separately soon, as the focus of this moment is on representation of Black people. We recognise the need for greater representation of class/socio-economic background in our workforce and in the sector as a whole, and also that understanding intersectionality is key to progress.
Socio-economic status of freelancers we engaged with in 2020/21:
|Don’t know/ prefer not to say/ NA||17%|
|Unemployed short and long term||9%|
|Routine and Semi Routine Manual Occupations and Tech occupations||17%|
|Modern professional occupations||49%|
*The Theatre Call to Action asks what level staff work at: currently the 6% of our staff who identify as Black work at senior management level, on permanent contract and the 12% who identify as Mixed/Arab/Other incl Lantinx work at ‘officer’ levels, 50% on permanent contract and 50% on fixed term contract.