Bristol project accuses arts of ‘institutional racism’

A project encouraging young people into the arts is putting on an exhibition to explore what is says is “institutional racism in art spaces”.

Bristol’s Rising Arts Agency aims to use art to “affect social change”.

It says the lack of visible black and ethnic minority work does not reflect how many artists or individuals of colour are working in the industry.

Its “Why are we not here?” show at Spike Island in Bristol features eight artists.

Co-curator Stacey Olika said people of colour had always been involved in art: “It’s about being given a chance to be seen.”

Ms Olika – a former University of the West of England art student – said it was “rocking the boat a bit… but as a young person of colour I believe in representation and we need a voice”.

“Traditionally, art has been made by a white male with a white male audience in mind, but there’s not just one type of art.

“In Bristol there are so many cultures and that comes through in this art work,”

she said.

“In the art world people are talking like everyone knows what art should be.

“There is not one type of art, or one language, and this project allows people to be expressive in whatever way they feel.”

A series of illustrations by Jasmine Thompson
A series of illustrations by Jasmine Thompson will be shown in the exhibition. Copyright: Olumedia

While the exhibition is on there will be discussions about other barriers to young people entering the art world.

The show runs from 3 – 12 May, with a preview on Friday evening to which members of the public are invited.

A hand print
A map trail features the art work and poems and encourages participation.
Copyright: Olumedia

First published 03.05.19:

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