An open meeting to establish a code of conduct on sexual harassment for the UK’s visual arts industry has been convened by We Are Not Surprised, a growing network of artists and art professionals who came together at the height of the #MeToo campaign to speak out about such abuses of power in the art world.
Open to women, trans and gender non-conforming persons and taking place this Monday 9 April at the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA), the meeting will focus on developing a core statement, drawing on existing resources and with the guidance of specialists.
Acknowledging the variety of sectors within the art world, the meeting will break off into working groups to focus on the specific contexts of public and private institutions, commercial galleries, freelance curators and writers, students, artists and artist assistants.
This is the second open meeting of the London branch of We Are Not Surprised, which has over 100 members internationally and includes local groups in New York and Paris. Following the group’s October 2017 open letter on sexual abuse in the art world, which received over 9,500 signatures, the first packed-out open meeting was held on International Women’s Day, with tickets going quickly.
The meetings are part of We Are Not Surprised’s four key goals, which involve decentralising efforts through local groups, finding a system that supports confidential communications, looking at how the group can support those who come forward about sexual harassment or abuse and ‘implementing an industry-wide code of conduct, with workplace guidelines’.
The original letter was signed by a range of individuals, including artists Joan Jonas, Cindy Sherman and Tania Bruguera, gallerist Sadie Coles and institutional directors such as Sarah McCrory (Goldsmiths Centre for Contemporary Art) and Sarah Munro (Baltic, Gateshead).
It stated: “We are not surprised. We are gallerists, artists, writers, editors, curators, directors, arts administrators, assistants, and interns – workers of the art world – and we have been groped, undermined, harassed, infantilised, scorned, threatened, and intimidated by those in positions of power who control access to resources and opportunities.”
Meeting #2 of We Are Not Surprised London takes place on Monday 9 April, 6.30-9pm at the Institute of Contemporary Arts. RSVP is required to attend
1. Image courtesy of We Are Not Surprised