Updated: Feb 7, 2022
OCA Student Association are launching a programme of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion training workshops delivered together with Dr. Ope Lori, artist and educator. The first session will be in December (full details to follow).
We have been developing our relationship with Dr Ope Lori, the Artist and PILAA Founder and Director ever since Ope visited OCA students to participate in our online artist talks last November. PILAA are (Pre-Image Learning and Action), a visual arts and educational consultancy specialising in the areas of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion. Their facilitators are internationally renowned artists with PhDs and Research Associates.
In my first twelve months as OCA Equality and Diversity co-representative, speaking with students from all backgrounds, without doubt, their biggest shared frustration was a perceived lack of meaningful action being taken to improve Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, not only in art colleges, but in institutions across the entire spectrum of society.
So to change this, OCASA have commissioned PILAA to facilitate a series of online training workshops around Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, as it relates to Higher Education, learning and teaching, the Arts and the curriculum.
The subjects that we will be focusing on are:
Whiteness Made Simple, and Class: ‘The Elephant in the Room’, looking at how class, race and whiteness intersect.
What is difference? Considering difference in conversations around inclusion and exclusion.
Self-Censorship and Facilitating Difficult Dialogues, the role of the ego.
Being Your Authentic Self in the Workplace, encouraging self-confidence.
Inclusive Language and Safer Spaces, understanding what it means to be an ally.
We will round everything up in an ‘open forum’ session which will allow participating students to reflect on the success of programme, and discuss where should we go next.
In designing this programme we have attempted to produce a platform of online workshops that can broadly operate, either as a coherent series or a collection of independent events.
One of the inspirations that sparked the idea for this programme was an article that I read by Coco Fusco the Cuban American writer / artist, We Need New Institutions, Not New Art. Coco discusses how equity will never be achieved alone, by gestures such as a new black artist achieving a record sale, or an Emerging Artists of Colour Exhibition; but by changing the existing power structures of art institutions themselves. It’s actually not a new theory.
Within OCA we have plenty of goodwill which is of course both welcome and important, but it alone will not bring about significant or sustainable change. If we continue to do what we always have, then we can only expect to achieve the same outcomes that we always have. So we have to start taking action and be open to change for anything to change.
It really is that simple.
This newly formed OCA Student Association are working hard to generate greater participation and engagement, and new initiatives such as these Equality, Diversity and Inclusion workshops are the core of the strategy to and positively influence the OCA student experience and bring about genuine Equality for everybody.
This programme will raise awareness of how negative dynamics can affect those perceived as other, by analysing the formation and impact of prejudice, stereotyping, and decisions around everyday language.
We know we face challenges just like the wider society, so we need everybody to do the work and together we can bring about change.
PILAA have successfully worked on similar projects with clients such as Tate, The Courtaulds Institute of Art and the British Army. They are a highly professional organisation who are very knowledgeable in this field.
This will be a safe and non-judgmental space where everybody can discuss and share their own experiences, everybody is welcome to participate.
If you would like to discuss this project, or contribute more to our approach to EDI then, as always, I am more than happy to make myself available to have an informal conversation.
Assuring you of our best intentions!