Black Lives Matter.
This statement comes shamefully late, at a time when the black squares have disappeared and our timelines are returning to normal, but the systemic issues and their terrible consequences rage on. We were devastated to hear the news this week of yet another shooting of a Black man in the USA, Jacob Blake, and of Ugandan asylum seeker Mercy Baguma dying of malnutrition in the UK. We cannot, must not, sit quietly and let these tragedies become footnotes as we rush to find a ‘new normal’. Systemic racism has no place in our world and we all have to do better right now.
As a company, we at Quirk Theatre have been appalled by the police brutality against black people in the UK and US. We decided to take a step back and be quiet so as to listen and learn, to have conversations and challenge ourselves both as individuals and as a company. But we have come to realise that our silence is part of the problem. We are a tiny organisation, unsalaried and reliant on project by project funding and in the past have said that that rendered us incapable of action. But we were wrong. Just because we do not have a building, or a salary, or permanent staff does not mean we should be silent. And it does not mean that we cannot make changes. We have a platform and a voice and we are determined to use this as a force for good.
Quirk have never shied away from addressing complex issues in our work with children but we realise we have not done enough. So we are taking the strange pause that the Covid-19 pandemic has afforded us to do the work wherever and however we can.
We would like to invite other small organisations to step up now. Whether you are a company of one, or a handful of volunteers, if you are reading others statements and commitments but thinking it is not necessary for you - it is never too late to make a difference.
Here are some resources, initiatives and Black-owned businesses & companies who we have been learning from, and who we hope others might find useful too:
Beyond Face - a performance company based in Plymouth whose mission is to raise the profile and visibility of People of Colour in the Arts.
Black Pound Day - Starting with one day per month, Black Pound Day encourages everyone to spend money with local and online UK Black-owned businesses. Replacing your usual purchases with services and products from Black-owned businesses.
@hereweeread - A diversity and inclusion expert who has many amazing reading lists for diversifying children's bookshelves. A wonderful follow on Instagram and host of the Here Wee Read Podcast.
Kalkidan Legesse - Kalkidan is a cultural leader in Exeter creating ethical fashion, leadership reflections, and anti-racist tools. You can support her Patreon page or shop at her ethical sustainable store Sancho’s using these links: