In the wake of the murder of George Floyd, Liverpool Arab Arts Festival stood firm in our solidarity with protestors and those fighting against racism, anti-blackness, white supremacy, and state violence against George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Rodney King and all those who have been attacked and murdered before and since.
Alongside calling for justice abroad, we reiterate our commitment to do everything within our power to ensure racial justice and equality within our own communities and workplaces as well.
Our remit is to bring the best of traditional and contemporary Arab arts and culture to diverse audiences here in the UK and internationally. We are proud to collaborate with a diverse range of artists through our work, which includes black artists who are from or have heritage in the Middle East and North Africa, who face discrimination at home and abroad.
We asked how we could build upon the work we do to actively fight racism and anti-blackness in the UK, the Arab world, and anywhere our work reaches. As we approach the one year anniversary of the murder of George Floyd, we’re looking back at the work we have done over the past twelve months:
In 2021, LAAF along with five other arts and culture organisations within the Liverpool City Region are taking part in Generations for Change, a commitment to the diversification of our workplaces. Generations for Change is an exciting, paid, development and training opportunity for young people from Black, Asian and other diverse backgrounds. The project will train, equip and upskill young people from across the Liverpool City Region to deliver a series of creative action research projects, focusing on the key issues and inequalities faced by Black, Asian and other diverse ethnic groups in our local area.
This forms part of the review we are continually undertaking on our recruitment practices. Whether this entails reviewing job descriptions and roles to improve accessibility, or accepting remote working and removing geographical boundaries wherever possible.
Education and Community Participation
As an arts organisation, we have a long and rich history rooted in diversity, with an aim to raise the visibility of Arab art and culture, lending a voice to those who often go unheard. We always want to be able to offer insight and expertise from those we have long standing relationships with, in working with accessibility when it comes to culture and race. We’re currently in the process of recruiting a Cultural Education Producer, who will work to increase opportunities and accessibility for underrepresented groups, working within schools and our communities.
In 2020, LAAF took place in an exclusively digital format – this allowed us to amplify the voices of those who may otherwise go unheard, and to reach new corners – spreading the word of visibility and our commitment to equality. By continuing to work with local communities, we are able to examine any accessibility barriers to work, and strive to remove them. Our work on a grassroots level and within local partnerships allows us to see the role of LAAF as one to be informed, and one to inform.
Working closely with the COoL Collective, of which LAAF is a member, we participated in Black History Month with our project Yemen in Conflict. We have worked collectively with partner organisations to increase our own awareness of race issues, as well as to identify where change is needed and take steps to apply it. LAAF are co-signatories of the joint statement on race equality action put forward by COoL – read here
LAAF staff and board members developed a reading list based around racial justice, consisting of articles that we have found interesting both in articulating our own experiences as well as helping us learn and further our understanding. This will continue to expand over the coming months:
Anti-Blackness In The Arab World And The Violence That Doesn’t Get A Hashtag
Putting Afro-Arabs On The Map: The British-Sudanese Artist Reimagining London As An Afrabian Enclave
Palestinian Actress Maryam Abu Khaled Slams Arab Racism In Viral Video
Black Iraqis Say George Floyd’s Death Sheds Light On Their Own Centuries-Long Plight
Bookmark This: Are Acronyms Like Bame A Nonsense?
Black Arab women tackle racist beauty ideals and stereotypes
Too Black to Be Arab, Too Arab to Be Black
Black Lives Matter in the Arab World too
How to be an ally:
Francesca Leigh: 5 Tips for Being an Ally