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Black History Month Greetings from Artists' Union England
October is Black History Month.
With black people dying disproportionately from Covid-19, up to 4 times more likely to contract it and die and the murder of George Floyd leading to global black lives matter protests, combined with the negative impacts of coronavirus on the arts and culture sector, Black History Month is more important than ever.
Many of our members have had work cancelled for the foreseeable future and there is also an impact on work, our black members, in particular, would have been involved in, for black history month. With businesses closed, budgets cut and physical events not going ahead (even though there are virtual activities) this will have impacted negatively and greatly reduced work opportunities.
The knock-on impact of less Black History Month events, is on communities, workplaces and wider society who would have participated and benefited from the knowledge and awareness these events bring.
Over the summer, the black lives matter movement has generated a renewed conversation about the legacies of enslavement and colonialism. In August Zita had the honour alongside Professor Stephen Small of giving the International Slavery Museum Slavery Remembrance Annual Lecture where these issues and their impacts are discussed: Lecture; https://www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/slavery-remembrance-day/zita-holbourne
Although there are restrictions and barriers, we know online events are happening and we invite you to share details of BHM events you are organising on our social media or by email and we are also interested to hear from you about how coronavirus and knock on impacts on work have effected any planned activities and work you had for Black History Month.
Artists and others in our wider sector are crucial to sharing knowledge and history and messages relating to black history, through their creations and it is essential that we celebrate our achievements as black people, acknowledge our collective trauma and work together to campaign for justice and equality for black workers and communities.
Black artists face institutional racism in the arts and culture sector and often find their work pigeon holed and labelled as black art and 'told’ to be more mainstream on one hand or on the other, that it's only suitable for a black audience. It is for black artists to create art they want to create and in the same way black history should not be confined to one month of the year, nor should the creations and work of black artists be restricted to black audiences. Black history is world history and the knowledge of it benefits everyone and helps counter racism and art created by black artists is for everyone.
We are keen to develop our black members network in AUE and encourage participation on behalf of AUE at the TUC Black Workers Conference and encourage you to get in touch if interested.
Art is a powerful medium to heal, to educate, to promote cultural awareness, to agitate, to bring us together and to communicate.
Black history is world history, we have a collective responsibility to ensure that it is taught, shared, acknowledged and celebrated.
Zita Holbourne & Martin Sundram, Joint National Chairs, Artists’ Union England (AUE)
On behalf of the AUE National Executive Committee