In July 2020 Storytelling PR Director, Miriam Attwood sent a rambling email to Black, Asian, Migrant, Indigenous and Ethnically Diverse artists and colleagues in the industry (that Storytelling have worked with) saying Storytelling was keen to use the rare time we now had in lieu of the August Festival season to hold a formal awareness raising moment about Racism in Fringe PR and Comms. As an industry leader it felt possible to get people within the industry to really face and work towards making long term change – but of course – inappropriate for Miriam A to hold that space.
In doing this work we sought invaluable advice, accepting constant suggestions, amendments and corrections along the way. Three points specifically we would like to underline about this work are; one change can only happen when the industry welcomes Ethnically Diverse Talent to take up positions of power, and fosters that talent with real awareness and two as a white team we cannot take up room in this space, but we feel we can support with providing a platform, carrying out admin, and asking for funding. three we are a small cog in a huge space of change and we would like to thank the leaders in this space who have taught us so much.
Manifesting from this were two forums where Tigho Feldman held the space as facilitator. Tigho is currently Head of Operations for Rambert London, and through her impressive career held senior roles within the Festival Fringe Society.
Leading on both format and content were Arusa Qureshi (Edinburgh based, Freelance Culture and Music writer) and Clarcia Parinussa (dancer, choreographer, race equalities work as ID.Y and D/ecology)
With Arusa, Claricia and Tigho’s leadership we came to a conclusion a closed forum with a group of creatives would begin the event, providing a safe space for comment and honest reflection, (Storytelling PR did not attend). Then a second industry facing forum with conclusions shared and an ask of a commitment to change with an open sign up sheet. There was a third forum – a breakout space – for industry – namely PRs, media and marketers – to meet and reflect. We would like to fully recognise this was very much a ‘change, amend, update’ process, and we are greatly appreciative for all the honest feedback we received.
The contributing creatives* include:
Annie George – Artist and Writer
Shivani Saini – Director Atelier Culturati
Christian Graham – Writer and actor
Apphia Campbell – Writer and Actor
Katherina Radeva – Co-Director Two Destination Language
Sage Nokomis-Wright (Producer)
Mandla Rae (Performance Artist)
Natalie Chan (Producer)
Arusa Qureshi (Culture and Music journalist)
Claricia Parinussa (Dancer, Choreographer and race inequalities facilitator and industry leader)
Artists and writers in the first forum were welcome to attend the second. Many of those contributors have also fed back to us specifically with suggestions and ideas that were taken on board, and shared. We are looking at how we continue to build and share on these responses and to safely make these public.
*we have invited artists to keep their name anonymous as in the closed forum facilitated by Tigho Feldman.
Footage of the second session will soon be available for media and PRs to engage with. We would ask anyone joining this space to commit to making at least one change in their working practice to make spaces safer for Ethnically Diverse Artists and Industry.
Breakdown of funding:
Festival Fringe Society £240
Storytelling PR LTD £715
Industry attendees were asked to contribute £10
Artists and facilitator payments £850
Donations in lieu of fees to Ethically Diverse led companies £150
NEXT STEPS: Storytelling will seek to apply for funding to continue this work and then hand over the space to Ethnically Diverse Talent to own and hold the space and continue the work with the resources Storytelling can offer.
Storytelling PR Ltd will be looking to hire a new PR in 2021 to diversify our permanent team and will be advertising with the Taylor Bennet Foundation https://www.taylorbennettfoundation.org/ and Black-led British publications and job sites.
We will continue to publish comments from contributors and commitments from industry in this space.