On Tuesday Greenwich Dance demonstrated our commitment to our black artists, colleagues and communities in the observation of #BlackOutTuesday and #theShowMustBePaused – an impassioned plea from two Atlantic Records executives Brianna Agyemang and Jamila Thomas, in reaction to what they describe as “the long-standing racism and inequality that exists from the boardroom to the boulevard”.
I spent the following day delving deeper into the story of George Floyd through podcasts and editorial: digesting the opinions and reflections that were emerging and feeling overcome with sadness. Meanwhile my team were also dealing, in their own individual ways, with the trauma they had witnessed. Due to the physical isolation Covid-19 has enforced, we were all without the luxury of a communal office space in which to unload and unpick these feelings of distress and despair. Until one of my team reached out across the distance. We quickly convened around a virtual table to share and to decide how we, Greenwich Dance, should use this harrowing event to effect change. Afterwards I spent a little more time thinking about how I, Melanie Precious, could do the same.
In that reflection two things struck me. The first is that this story is not owned by one race. It is a story about a human. A human called George Floyd who was treated unspeakably. And yet we must speak of it. We cannot let actions like this go unchallenged to any human on our planet. Black, brown or white. This is our collective struggle, owned by us all. Anyone who had that horror directed into their hand through social media will have images and sounds in their head that will scar forever. Let us use those scars as reminders of the actions we must take.
The second was more of a wish. I found myself wanting so desperately to turn back time so that someone could have stopped this. I asked myself and those around me, why didn’t they? It’s a loaded question with many complexities. Fear is one answer, though perhaps too simplistic.
To make effective change, I think, we should start with ourselves. My suspicion, that fear had stood in the way of saving George Floyd’s life, has propelled me to pledge an action I will personally take. I do not want anyone I work with, or who wants to work with me or us here at Greenwich Dance, to be fearful of speaking out. To use yesterday as an example, the voices of my team (because they were not scared to be honest, to call me and to share) propelled action. So this is my email address and I am now declaring officially an ‘Open Door Policy’ to be extended beyond my immediate team to anyone who thinks that I personally or Greenwich Dance organisationally need to hear your voice in order for us to combat racism and discrimination together. Every idea, every observation, is valuable.
Collectively we also decided to turn our blog over to artists over the summer to express themselves through their art. As our #GDLifeinLockdown series concludes we will develop a new call out to empower those that have something to say to further the cause of #BlackLivesMatter. My team are developing this as I write and details will be available soon. It is a small step and much bigger ones are needed but we do this with an open heart and as a way of saying to you and our communities that we will stand in solidarity with those who experience prejudice and racism and we will support in the best way we know how, through our art and the making of that art, to do our bit to create a world where events like those we have seen recently have absolutely no place.
Greenwich Dance believe that #BlackLivesMatter.
With thanks to:
And our wider Greenwich Dance family of artists and communities
For their honesty, ideas and inspiration.
Melanie Precious, CEO, Greenwich Dance