UK’s Film and TV Charity publishes industry perspectives on anti-racism efforts

London-based organization The Film and TV Charity has released two new documents exploring anti-racism in the UK’s film and TV industry. The documents, titled Think Piece on Anti-Racism in the Film ...
September 21, 2021

London-based organization The Film and TV Charity has released two new documents exploring anti-racism in the UK’s film and TV industry.

The documents, titled Think Piece on Anti-Racism in the Film and TV Industry by Sasha Salmon, and Racial Diversity Initiatives in UK Film and TV by Dr. Clive Nwonka and Sarita Malik, analyze racial diversity initiatives in the industry throughout the past two decades. The documents were both created as a result of The Film and TV Charity’s Anti-Racism Action Plan.

Salmon’s paper reports on experiences of racism in the UK industry, following an internal review of the charity’s own anti-racism approach.

The document makes a series of recommendations to the charity, and the industry as a whole, including being publicly accountable, transparent, collaborative and ensuring everyone in the company has clear action plans on the issue of anti-racism, among others.

“It was clear to me while many 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,” Salmon said in a statement. “Understanding this and being honest about complicity is a vital step to inform anti-racist action. The relationship-based structure of the UK 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 led to her commissioning Nwonka and Malik to write their own paper that surveys and analyzes major racial diversity initiatives seen in the UK industry in the last 20 years. Nwonka and Malik’s report finds that in considering how diversity has been established as the policy framework through which the industry constructs and manages ethnic and racial difference, they found competing agendas, barriers and imperatives.

The Film and TV Charity is working to share both documents with the UK industry as a whole, and invited leaders to participate in a series of roundtables that are meant to find common ground and agreement on a new anti-racism action platform for the UK film and TV business by next summer. The charity will also launch a £1 million Impact Partnerships Programme early next year, which will be an investment over three years into groups led by people of color for people of color.

The program responds to Salmon’s observation that anti-racist interventions should be adequately funded, long-term, and they should foreground the expertise of colleagues of color, to be effective. The program will support partner organizations to ensure their sustainability, while leading on innovative anti-racist projects seeking to intervene at a structural level.

Juliet Gilkes-Romero, one of the charity’s trustees as well as a writer and broadcaster, said the lack of formal accountability regarding racism in the industry has always concerned her.

“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 said in a statement.

“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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