Working towards a more inclusive and anti-racist network
Established in 2018, SWCTN supports research and development in emerging technologies. The SWCTN network is currently made up of 583 members, a rich mix of established and developing researchers, artists, technologists, businesses and practitioners from across the region, representing multiple disciplines and industries. SWCTN is underpinned by the concept and practice of ‘cultural ecology’, cultivating and connecting diverse networks of people, places, communities and resources across the region. By creating opportunities for knowledge exchange and collaboration, we explore the challenges and possibilities of creative technologies, prototype ideas, and support new businesses committed to triple bottom line impacts: social, economic and environmental. Drawing together expertise in creative producing, knowledge exchange, business development and creative economy research, SWCTN hopes to strengthen regional productivity, innovation and resilience.
SWCTN operates in a context of structural inequality that discriminates against people along the intersecting lines of race, gender, sexuality, ability, age and class. As SWCTN has developed we have had an increasing focus on how we can support an inclusive network. This has come from both the partners on the programme and also from the diverse cohort of Fellows that we have commissioned. Given we are now in our final year of funded activity, we want to take this opportunity to formalise this commitment in order to ensure that future versions of our network meet that triple bottom line for all of our communities.
These issues, and in particular the pervasive nature of racism, have been brought into sharp focus by the unfolding crisis caused by COVID-19. The pandemic has disproportionately affected those among us with disabilities, those who are socio-economically deprived, and those from black or ethnic minority backgrounds within our network. These pressures have been exacerbated by the killing of George Floyd and the response led by the Black Lives Matter movement has focussed all of our minds on what we can do to be an anti-racist network.
Our inclusion approach is intersectional and results from a recognition that awareness of the issues, methodologies to tackle the issues, and the readiness to move forward and act on the issues, need first to be created within the sector, then supported as work in practice. Given the above we are taking the following actions:
- Employ an Inclusion Producer to work with us on the final year of the programme
- Work with an independent expert on inclusion to review our programme so we can continue to improve it
- Implement more diverse participation in our Executive Board (which is where many programme decisions are ratified) to include alumni representation and inclusion expertise
- Provide inclusion training to our team and our network
- Ensure any events, recruitment panels, showcases, etc that we produce or support are diverse in their representation
We hope that these measures, alongside our on-going commitment to inclusion and diversity, will help SWCTN become a truly inclusive network, and a positive force for change in the South West region.