Revisioning update (posted 24.09.2020)
For an updated version (13/5/2021), see here.
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 movement: 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 has seen us start to build the foundations to enable a process of radical change. Our process of self-reflection as an organisation, team and Board has begun, and we have started to engage critical friends in our process, inviting feedback on our intentions, approach and working practices.
We have spent the last 2 months listening to and talking with artists, creating an Artist Working Group with agency to co-produce key elements of the process with us and forming plans for engaging a wider community of artists. We are in the final stages of recruitment for an independent external facilitator who will work with us to structure the next stages, with a particular focus on addressing equity within the organisation. Once they are recruited, we will share more detailed plans on our intentions for Stage Two.
Stage Two – Consultation (September and November 2020)
Stage Two is LIVE. This phase will be about facilitating conversation and listening to others. Our Artist Working Group will convene over the next few months, working with a host, the CFCCA team and change management facilitator. We will host a series of facilitated conversations with our partners, supporters and audiences interrogating who we are, what we do and who we do this with and for.
It is our intention to audit our organisational process and structure from recruitment through to governance to ensure it is inclusive and fit for purpose and to deliver a public, artist and peer consultations programme which will consist of webinars, workshops and discussions. 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.
The CFCCA programme will become a platform to reflect on our past and discuss our future and we will use the gallery as a site to document and invite comment on our process as it evolves.
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.
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. For now, sign up to our monthly newsletter (via our homepage) for news and updates or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.