In 2020, in the wake of George Floyd’s murder and in support of Black Lives Matter, we responded in an attempt to show solidarity and our commitment to change. That response, in light of what we’ve learned over the past year, now seems wholly inadequate and in hindsight we realise that we simply weren’t equipped at the time to express a more complex and meaningful reaction.
Through the 50 years of the Playhouse, whilst the organisation was established for and continues to be a place that aims to serve all our local communities, we know we haven’t always delivered on this aim, losing the trust of some Black people and communities along the way.
As a response to the events of a year ago, we set out to develop a Plan for Change specifically looking at the Playhouse’s relationship with Black artists, Black people and communities. This led to the formation of a Reference Group, involving a cross-section of Board members and staff facilitated by independent consultants Armstrong Cameron. The work of the Reference Group was one aspect of our ongoing work on our broader ambitions for Access and Inclusion, and set out to develop a Plan for Change that would create an action plan for progress in this specific area as a matter of urgency.
Whilst we acknowledge we still have a long way to go, over the past year we’ve taken a deep look at what we need to do to become a truly anti-racist organisation that provides a safe and supportive environment for Black people. A lot of work with staff from across the organisation involved in the Reference Group has taken place, for which we are incredibly grateful, with tremendous support from Board members and external consultants Armstrong Cameron. We acknowledge that systematic and structural racism exists and are fully committed to and take responsibility for making deep-seated change happen at Leeds Playhouse, whilst also continuing to work together with others to see much wider change happen across the sector, within our region and nationally.
More information about the Plan for Change and what we are doing to become a fully inclusive organisation can be found below.