Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art has been part of Manchester’s flourishing cultural network for almost 35 years. We are a national gallery with an international perspective, who brings together the global and the local. On multiple occasions during our history, the organisation has shifted its mission, approach and home. We now find ourselves at another juncture, a moment to take action, to reflect on our model of cultural production and consider how we can best speak to societal need to ensure our work is both effective and relevant now. We hear the criticisms raised by artists and feel the urgency of the Black Lives Matter debate: there are issues of under representation within the staff team we need to solve and steps to being actively anti-racist we need to take. CFCCA is no stranger to progression, and the next phase in our evolution is upon us.

Like the socially engaged work which graces our gallery spaces, artist residencies and community projects, the organisation exists to challenge perceptions, cross perceived barriers, and question dominant cultural norms. It is now time for us to turn this enquiring nature inward, as we begin a process of revisioning that will bring open consultation and conversation to help shape the future of CFCCA.

Originally halted by COVID-19 and extensive furloughs, we are now able to return to this integral revisioning project of which conversations on equality will be at the heart. We will engage a multiplicity of voices, while embedding artists at the centre of the process through co-producing elements of it with them, employing them as agents of change to help readdress the status quo.

  • Stage One – Preparation (July – August)
    Stage One is live. We are planning for the flexibility we will need given the extensive collaboration which is necessary, preparing for this rigorous and intensive process, consulting with our board and committees. We will be inviting artists to form a working group with agency to co-produce key elements of the process with us and we are poised to start recruitment for an independent external facilitator to guide us through the change process.
  • Stage Two – Consultation (September and November 2020)
    We envisage a public, artist and peer consultations programme which will consist of webinars, workshops and discussions. The content of these discussions will be announced across the next few months. We are eager to address fundamental, systemic issues within the organisation and pressing challenges which the sector must respond to: race, gender and class equality; societal barriers for engagement; decolonisation and empowerment.
  • Stage Three and beyond
    Stages 1 and 2 are about transparency, openness and listening. Given we are collaboratively curating and carefully co-producing we are eager to ensure that the outcomes of stages 1 and 2 will inform the next steps. Here we will bring together findings, analyse options and formulate recommendations with more details to share as they evolve.

Finally

This process will not happen overnight, and it will need space to flux as understanding and conversations develop.

We are aware of the ingrained racial, cultural and political issues within the sector and fully recognise that we can’t promote the necessary change alone. We are committed to a process of ongoing collaboration and openness to ensure we find the right direction for CFCCA and make change which we hope will turn ripples into waves.

We will announce details of numerous opportunities to contribute to this process in the coming weeks and months, and we sincerely want to hear all voices and opinions. If you are interested in how you can be a part of shaping the future direction of CFCCA, sign up to our monthly newsletter (via our homepage) or contact us at hello@cfcca.org.uk.