GTG Blog: Continuing the work of making the Arts diverse and inclusive, by Esther Andare

I hope you all had a restful holiday period and are adjusting to being back at work, albeit working from home. Last year we hosted three online sessions, one for individuals and two for organisations; each session focused on a different aspect of diversity and inclusion within the arts.

I wrote a summary of the first session and the problems using the term BAME and how it is damaging, particularly when attempting to increase diversity and inclusion. The discussion then turned to the active steps that galleries and organisations to make people of colour feel more welcomed in their spaces.

The second and third sessions featured guest speakers who touched upon several points on improving diversity which I also summarised in a previous blog. The overarching message from the two sessions was that making their organisation diverse is something all organisations should and can work towards; even the smallest step is one in the right direction.

Many important points were highlighted in the first three sessions, which we hope to expand and build upon in the final three sessions. The next three sessions will take a new outlook on diversity and inclusion within the arts, through a Northern Irish context. What became apparent from our sessions is that Northern Ireland is in a unique position compared to the rest of the UK. In terms of the progression of diversity, it is too simple to look at existing models within mainland UK or elsewhere and attempt to implement the in NI without taking into account the complexities of NI. 

So, we have a line-up of excellent people who work within and around the arts all from the island of Ireland for the remaining three sessions, starting with the fantastic Cuthbert ‘Tura’ Arutura on Thursday 28th Jan!

The goal of these sessions is to continue to facilitate meaningful conversations about diversity and inclusion that are needed within the sector. The session will hopefully provide an open space for organisations to talk to individuals about their needs and what they, as an audience, would like to see improved to make them feel more welcomed in these spaces.

Looking forward to seeing you all there!

GTG Diversity sessions and our New Needs internship are supported by Community Foundation NI.

GTG Blog: Reflecting on our diversity conversations in 2020 by Esther Andare

As the year is quickly drawing to a close, it is only right to reflect on it. It goes without saying that 2020 has been one to remember for a lot of reasons (particularly an eleven-letter word on everyone’s mind that starts with a C and ends with an S). And it would be very easy to allow the challenging and difficult times to overshadow a number of positive things that have happened this year. But one evident positive outcome of 2020 was the fact that black lives matter was brought back to the forefront of many minds. The BLM protests central message of racial equality made waves throughout several arts institutions, who became conscious of – or were forced to confront – their lack of diversity. 

Over the past months, as part of its Community Foundation NI New Needs project, the Golden Thread Gallery has hosted three sessions to discuss how we as arts organisations can all endeavour to put diversity and equality at the forefront.

In the second session, our guest speaker Seema Manchanda, Managing Director of The Showroom, accurately pointed out that when it comes to making progress on the matter, as long as an organisation is consciously attempting to improve diversity, even small actions count to begin with. A similar sentiment was expressed in our third session by our two speakers Jade Foster and Pier Vegner Tosta: namely that improving diversity is not something that can be solved in a couple of weeks. It’s more along the lines of a marathon. Policies around diversity and inclusion should be viewed as a long-term strategy.

Two particularly useful pieces of advice that I took from the sessions were:

  • Reach out to diverse communities and cater to their needs

This can range from allowing your space just to be a community shared space that can be used in alternative ways. By removing the pressure of getting the community to come to your venue and participate in what you have to offer, a suggestion was to allow your space to be used by them in other ways that they actually need more. This could be a meeting point, learning space or simply a place with no pressure to buy something, offering free tea and coffee; the aim is to make your space useful for the community.

  • Create an allyship with other organisations

As mentioned above, striving for more diversity is not an easy and quick job. In areas like Belfast, with a smaller diverse population, having an alliance allows for strength in numbers and sharing knowledge.

I hope you have a lovely holiday period and stay safe. See you all in 2021, where the Golden Thread Gallery and I have planned more sessions and activities in the New Needs project, including a host of amazing speakers to hear from and with whom we can discuss making our organisations more inclusive.

Finally, we wanted to share the wonderful presentation that Pier collated for Session Three, featuring artworks and artists that have inspired and informed his own personal and curatorial journey exploring identity, ethnicity, history and memory, and how these can often be blurred into one.

Hymn#7 Bodi Tribe by Joyce Treasure
mixed media 27cm x 21cm framed 2018

UPDATED Organisations in NI and ROI that are doing amazing things!

Please note this is not an exclusive list – If you are aware of more, please email them to us!


Origins Eile

Beyond Representation


Bounce Culture

The Angelica Network

Black Culture Movement

United Against Racism