Anti-racist policy

ONCA’s action plan

The ONCA team works from the understanding that social, economic and environmental issues are interconnected and interdependent. We commit to working together to embody the following principles:

1. Learning from history and understanding structural power:

  • Understanding and learning about systems of oppression and power
  • Challenging the power structures which support those systems and create injustices 
  • Taking responsibility for equalising power, and creating spaces where all are encouraged to actively engage, listen, speak and act with respect

2. Undoing racism:

  • Working to understand what racism is, where it comes from, how it functions, and why it is perpetuated in order to undo it and work effectively for social change
  • Identifying and analysing manifestations of racism such as militarism and cultural racism, which enforce and perpetuate racism
  • Not expecting Black people and people of colour to carry the burden of anti-racist labour

3. Maintaining accountability:

  • Holding ourselves accountable to communities struggling with racist oppression
  • Examining the resources and privileges we have and using them thoughtfully, respectfully, honestly and transparently

4. Solidarity:

  • Learning about the histories and struggles of impacted communities and other groups as told by them
  • Working in solidarity with communities directly impacted by corporate power and across social, economic and political boundaries
  • Becoming better allies by helping to build broad-based movements for environmental, social, and economic justice
  • Listening to, learning from and amplifying the voices of our allies
  • Supporting the Principles of Environmental Justice adopted by the Delegates to the First National People of Colour Environmental Leadership Summit (1991)

Underpinned by these principles, ONCA will take the following actions to continue its work of becoming an actively anti-racist organisation. The aim of the action plan is to form an increasingly solid presence of anti-racist activity within the charity and the organisations that we support and work with. It is intended to evolve, in an ethos of shared organisational learning and reflection. It will be reviewed and updated every 6 months, and shared publicly to ensure accountability.

ONCA Anti-Racist Action Plan

Programming commitments: artists, audiences, communities, opportunities

  • Underpin ONCA’s events and exhibitions with anti-racist principles, alongside a deepening commitment to solidarity with communities facing all forms of oppression. Acknowledge intersectionality and support further-marginalised people such as Black LGBTQI+ groups
  • Practically support the decolonial research and curatorial work of ONCA staff by for example: 
    • allocating work time to their research 
    • offering curatorial opportunities
    • Investing in research texts
  • Host talks and workshops on prison abolition and alternatives to policing eg transformative justice. Host events and researchers on Sussex/ UK/ global Black history; mark key historic events eg 40th anniversary of Brixton Uprising
  • Continue providing a platform for debate and paid opportunities. Ensure all ONCA panels are diverse
  • Continue to programme Black and POC artists. Not expect them to carry the burden of anti-racist labour
  • Continue to offer artists and groups with protected characteristics access to ONCA’s resources, equipment and digital skills
  • Regularly offer and signpost opportunities open specifically to groups with marginalised identities
  • Continue to collaborate with under-served communities
  • Display organisational principles/ code of conduct at venue entrances

Organisational practice and workplace culture

  • Build in regular structured opportunities for reflection in-house on how racism plays out in our dynamics and across our spaces. Explore issues of power, privilege and how/ whether our work is addressing power inequalities. Approaches may include journalling, discussion and peer-led learning about power relations locally and across scale and time. Address questions per space, for example – why is the gallery so white? Why is the barge so white? Why is Upstairs so white? Why is the Brighton arts community so white? Why are collaborative projects that we engage in so white? What can we do to challenge this?
  • Team members will attend relevant ONCA talk events, external educational events and workshops
  • Make ONCA solidarity and anti-racist practices a standing agenda item for meetings
  • Use our platforms to raise awareness of racism, and support anti-racist work publicly and internally
  • Understand and challenge local conditions: 
    • Be attentive to BHCC’s policies and practices with regard to racism 
    • Work proactively with the cultural and environmental sectors of Brighton and partners nationally and internationally to address and combat racism
  • Ensure that no person of colour is left to manage the gallery alone when there is content that is liable to elicit racist reactions from gallery visitors
  •  Build specific and ongoing relationships with frontline communities facing harms, and support their work
  • Actively seek employees from underrepresented groups. Ensure that these employees are given opportunities to rise to leadership positions. Continuously monitor the retention rate of these employees.
  • Work with Black and POC freelancers wherever possible, and continue our policy of supporting artists who face barriers to access. Monitor the diversity of the freelancers we work with. Pay freelancers properly and promptly
  • When invited to speak on external panels, ensure diverse representation and accessibility have been considered by the organisers
  • Clarify and signpost staff complaints procedure and safety at work policies
  • Equip all employees with racial justice training. Pay internal or external Black and POC facilitators for ongoing training where gaps have been identified.
  • Diversify ONCA board membership
  • Diversify ONCA volunteer base
  • Annually assess pay across ethnicities for discrepancies
  • Monitor and evaluate projects for diversity and inclusion. Ensure Black and POC artists and arts professionals are part of our evaluation and review processes.
  • Make an annual donation of a percentage of ONCA’s unrestricted income to organisations that fight social injustice and actively support anti-racism.
  • Ask all prospective partners to sign up to an anti-racist code of conduct before any project begins.

ONCA’s anti-racist principles are inspired by the following organisations and documents: 


Last updated: October 2020