We’re grateful to have had drawn to our attention some issues relating to the Remember Windrush project, part of which Ignite Imaginations are running on behalf of Sheffield City Council (and supported by the Church Urban Fund). Our role has been to encourage sharing of stories from the Windrush generation, for them to be added to Sheffield Archives.
In particular, the criticism is that, as an organisation whose staff, board and artists are mostly white, we should neither have been offered, nor accepted, funding for a project about Windrush. We wholeheartedly support the view that stories about Black experience are best gathered, looked after, and retold by people from those communities. Equally, when those communities express concern about the way in which their history is being captured or conveyed, we believe that it is vital their voices are heard and understood and that we respond appropriately.
For this reason we have gladly accepted the offer of further dialogue with those who wrote to us and we hope that these conversations will not just ensure that this project is delivered more appropriately, but also help us to become an organisation that better represents the communities of Sheffield. This project is an opportunity that we grasped, with great enthusiasm, because of our eagerness to collaborate more closely with Black communities within the city and because we want to work with and for the full range of people in the city. As has rightly been pointed out, however, we should be seeking to do so through partnerships with others.
As a result (and in advance of more detailed discussions with what those from Black Caribbean communities think would be appropriate and subject to agreement with Sheffield City Council), what we suggest is that:
· We offer the outstanding budget on the project to Black and Black-lead organisations within the city to deliver the project goals
· We offer to continue to work alongside them on the project, unpaid, if welcome to do so
· We invite those who have raised this issue to join an expert advisory group (on a paid basis) to support our organisational development.
Our hope is that further collaboration along these lines will help us to engage with all of Sheffield’s communities and gratefully accept any assistance that helps us to achieve this. It is only by doing so that we will be able to deliver the vision which we hope we all share: of igniting imaginations across a broad range of communities.