Our Commitment to Anti-Racism

Without Walls has taken the last 12 months to think carefully about how to create an anti-racist environment and culture within and across our network.

Despite work to create greater equity within the network, we know there are systemic biases in place that don’t help global majority artists and professionals progress to their full potential.

We want to take action to change behaviours, processes, systems and policies that give one person an advantage over another because of the colour of their skin.

The statement and video below express our commitment to anti-racism, while the downloadable action plan outlines the steps we are undertaking to deliver this ambition and how we will measure the success of these actions.

The work has been led by Development Producer, Sophie Akbar, who joined the network in early 2022. You can find a note from Sophie about the statement here.

Without Walls Anti-Racism Statement

This statement puts anti-racism at the centre of all we do and how we will be held to account. Warm words and good intentions are never enough. Progress, however long the arc, must be rooted in actions – in measurable and visible change. This is our commitment to ourselves, to our partners and to all the artists and the wider sector who seek a fair and equal world.

Jo Burns Chair of Without Walls


Diversity, equity and inclusion are core values and objectives of Without Walls and we are taking new measures to further promote these values at all levels of our organisation. We are committed to social justice and to addressing inequalities to contribute to a more equitable sector.

Systemic injustices that exist within the network based on race and identity are rightly being scrutinised and we are implementing new practices in our organisation to make real and sustainable change.

We will share what we know and what we learn with our partners in the outdoor arts sector and hope they will share their knowledge with us to address these inequalities together.

We take pride in the diversity of the work we produce and artists we support but know there is more to do. Our governance bodies, leadership and workforce do not reflect the diversity of our communities. We are working on changing this and we will act as an advocate for change in our sector.

We commit to measures that reduce these inequalities and address the issue of under-representation of people from global majority backgrounds within our organisations. We are listening to the artists, practitioners and organisations we serve to shape our thinking about internal change and the role we can play externally to help drive change. The intentions of this statement, and actions we are taking can be seen fully in our Anti-Racism Action Plan.

Why an Anti-Racism Statement?

Because we know there are systemic biases in place in our network that don’t help global majority artists and professionals progress to their full potential in the workplace. We want to take action to change behaviours, processes, systems and policies that give one person an advantage over another because of the colour of their skin. Through this anti-racism statement we hope to show that we are committed to identifying barriers to progression for global majority artists and professionals in our partner organisations, and are implementing anti-racist actions that will endeavour to overcome inherent systemic biases.

Key Actions We Have Taken to Make a Change in our Organisational Practices

In 2021 we commissioned an independent review of our work with global majority artists, managers and outdoor arts sector professionals. The recommendations that came out of this report are being put into action by our team and our recently appointed Development Producer, who is specifically tasked to work on the findings in the report.

In 2021 we established a Diversity & Inclusion Action Group. The purpose of this group is to encourage us (and through that our partner organisations) to be bolder in our thoughts and actions. The group oversees the delivery of our overall Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Strategy  and is made up of members of the Without Walls Board, Senior Management Team, Artistic Directorate and Touring Network Partnership.

In 2020 we commissioned an independent governance review to ensure that Without Walls demonstrates best practice in its governance arrangements as a not-for-profit arts organisation. In response to the review, we initiated a Board Shadowing Programme led by Artistic Directors of the Future, the aim of which is to demystify the roles and responsibilities of the Board, broker relationships with aspiring trustees and create an even playing field for near-future opportunities. We are working to ensure our Board is more representative of the many communities we represent.

Using the IncArts ‘Unlock’ toolkit as a guide we have produced an Anti-Racism Action Plan. This will be reviewed and updated every six months and is available on our website.

We recognise creating an inclusive culture is an evolutionary process and developing our internal teams is a core part of this process. We hold regular Diversity, Equity and Inclusion training sessions, covering topics such as ‘Unconscious Bias’, ‘Creating Inclusive Environments’ and ‘Race and Allyship’ and review our training requirements every six months. All staff and Board members attend these training sessions and it is a condition of membership that our festival partners attend and/or deliver equivalent training for their staff. Key Pledges We Make to Promote Fairness in our Sector.

We are examining our recruitment processes to understand why people from the global majority are under-represented in our network’s workforce and the sector in general. We are commissioning expert advice for ourselves and our festival partners, as we understand employment models need revision. We will be consulting with sector leaders to explore how we can work together to effect change in this area.

We will encourage our network membership to develop anti-racism good practice by making them aware of anti-racism toolkits and resources, consulting with them, and including them in the development of anti-racist policies and initiatives. We will review and adjust our terms of reference with network members on an annual basis to ensure progress in priority areas of anti-racist practice key to furthering the aim of eliminating racial inequities and improving outcomes for all racial groups.

We pledge to make connections with more organisations led by and for global majority artists. A minimum target of 30% of work commissioned by Without Walls is to be produced by ethnically diverse led organisations. We will monitor and share data to ensure transparency.

We pledge to continually challenge our existing policies, models and structures through external reviews, and to respond to recommendations by: tracking, improving and sharing our progress and publishing an annual impact report; adapting the language we use to respond to issues of identity in an informed and sensitive way; and adhering to our existing statements on equality, dignity at work and access.

Diversity Resources Area

Hidden Music of Trees is an istallation piece by South Asian artist Jason Singh. The image shows a white board attached to a tree with 10 coloured blocks on it. The board has the title of the piece at the top and each of the coloured blocks shows a different symbol.

Without Walls opportunities: https://withoutwalls.uk.com/opportunities/

Without Walls general resources: https://withoutwalls.uk.com/resources/

Webinar on pricing outdoor shows: https://withoutwalls.uk.com/resources/watch-recorded-webinar-about-pricing-outdoor-shows/

Environmental sustainability: https://withoutwalls.uk.com/resources/environmental-sustainability-list/

Access guide: https://withoutwalls.uk.com/resources/integrating-access-guidance-doc/

Artistic Directors of the Future: https://adofthefuture.com/

Outdoor Arts UK: https://outdoorartsuk.org/ [Online Training, Toolkits & Guides: https://outdoorartsuk.org/1094-2/]

National Association of Street Artists (NASA): https://nasauk.org/

BOOST (OAUK): https://outdoorartsuk.org/2022/03/18/boost-diversifying-outdoor-arts-production/

Tonic Theatre (EDI consultancy): https://www.tonictheatre.co.uk/

Unlock (anti-racism toolkit IncArts): https://incarts.uk/unlock

How to recruit diverse talent (ACE): How to recruit diverse talent_1.pdf

How to create diverse boards (ACE): How to create diverse boards_0.pdf

The film and statement have been created in conjunction with our Diversity & Inclusion Policy which will be updated in the coming months. This work on anti-racism sits within the overall strategy for Diversity and Inclusion.

If you would like to find out more or speak to someone at Without Walls you can contact:

Sophie Akbar, Development Producer: [email protected]

Any of the Without Walls team: [email protected]

One of our strategic priorities is ensuring the representation and development for artists who identify as Deaf, disabled, learning disabled and neurodivergent. We do this through a number of actions, including looking at improving accessibility to the shows and events we support.

Image credits:

Feature – Peaceophobia, Common Wealth and Fuel at GDIF 2022 © David Levene

Banner – Black Victorians, Jeanefer Jean-Charles at GDIF 2022 © Kate Hockenhull

Resources – Hidden Music of Trees, Jason Singh © Wild Rumpus