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The U.K.’s Film and TV Charity, which played a vital role in aiding sector workers impacted by the coronavirus pandemic during lockdown, is launching a new anti-racism initiative following the publication of two industry perspectives on the subject.
The Impact Partnerships Programme, which will funnel £1 million ($1.4 million) over a period of three years into organizations and community groups led by people of color for people of color, comes in response to a think piece from Sasha Salmon, a senior public policy advisor with expertise in anti-racism and equality.
Speaking of her Think Piece on Anti-Racism in the Film and TV Industry, Salmon wrote that while it was clear to her that “many people in film and TV speak about diversity, few people and leaders have really recognized and internalized what racism looks like in the industry for individuals, and the way that structures enable this.”
She added: “The relationship-based structure of the U.K. film and TV industry described throughout the review makes it particularly ripe for racism and bias. Given the influence film and TV has on society at large, this has damaging effects. If this industry gets it right, there is a precious opportunity to illuminate and change perceptions around race and help dismantle racism.”
Salmon’s work followed an internal review of The Film and TV Charity’s own approach to anti-racism and led to her also commissioning Dr. Clive Nwonka and Professor Sarita Malik to write a second piece, Racial Diversity Initiatives in U.K. Film and TV, to survey and analyze the major racial diversity initiatives seen in the industry over the last two decades.
The charity is in the process of sharing both pieces with the industry and hopes to reach agreement on a new anti-racism action platform for U.K. film and TV by summer 2022 with the help of industry leaders.
“Our ultimate intention with both of these documents is to catalyse industry-led action,” said charity CEO Alex Pumfrey. “In the wake of the murder of George Floyd and the unequal impacts of the pandemic we heard the clear testimony of people of colour working in film and television – our beneficiaries – living with both interpersonal and structural racism in our industry. We heard how this was impacting not only their career progression but their wellbeing and their mental health. For some it ultimately affected whether or not they could stay within the industry.”
Juliet Gilkes-Romero, writer, broadcaster and one of The Film and TV Charity’s trustees, said: “For me, a key aspect has always concerned the lack of formal accountability regarding racism in the industry. The insights we gained [in the publications] show that there have been over 100 diversity schemes in the last 10 years and yet there remains no robust public evaluation of their impact. I find this troubling. Why is this missing? How can there be measurable, demonstrable change without it?”
Gilkes-Romero added: “I would hate to see current good will go through the endless and repetitive cycles of well-meaning, encouraging, but ineffective actions, commitment and then amnesia as witnessed over the past 30 years… . The Film and TV Charity is looking to collaborate with industry partners to bring sustainable commitment and change with integrity so that we’re not sitting on the wrong side of history but creating a far better and egalitarian industry future.”
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