DLWP Fundraiser Dan Scales reflects on the Pavilion’s ‘Equality, Diversity and Inclusion’ work, which we are undertaking with Natasha Player & Co:

“From its opening in 1935, the Pavilion embodied a progressive and inclusive agenda; a ‘people’s palace’ – designed by a refugee and an émigré, that would welcome people from all walks of life to nourish their ‘mind, body and soul’ with culture. Eighty-five years later, Black Lives Matter, migrant crises, climate breakdown and global pandemic have brought the structural inequalities and racism in our society to the forefront of all our minds. Not only as individuals, but here at the De La Warr Pavilion as an organisation. More than ever, it felt essential to take a step back, reflect, and reimagine what is means to be an inclusive cultural centre.

To begin exploring how DLWP can be more inclusive for our staff and our communities, we have been working alongside Natasha Player and her team – expert ‘changemakers’ who ‘draw out people’s mutual respect and understanding’.

Recent Work

Some of our staff met Natasha Player and Ebi Sosseh in August 2020 for an introductory session exploring key themes around ‘Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion’, and helping them understand Pavilion through the eyes of those who know it best – our team!

On Tuesday 29 March, we met again for the first of four collaborative workshops encompassing the whole DLWP Team. The day of activities was run by Natasha and Ebi, who spent the morning helping the team identify our ‘Unconscious Bias’. In the afternoon, we split into breakout groups to create “Listening Spaces” around specific themes.

My group focused on how to support colleagues who might be experiencing Social, Emotional, and Mental Health (SEMH) challenges, or be neurodivergent. We explored some inspiring stories of how we’d created equitable working environments for such colleagues, at DLWP and elsewhere, through both formal and informal strategies. This enabled us to reflect on practices that the Pavilion could introduce to ensure such colleagues can feel even more welcome in future. Other groups shared insights into staff retention & training, cross-department communication, and teambuilding. It was a brilliant to hear contributions from so many different people across the organisation – from the Café Bar team to our stewards, Gallery Assistants, Box Office and Programming teams.

Simply seeing so many ‘people of the Pavilion’ together was a testament to the vibrancy and inclusivity that already exists within the organisation. And the lively discussions we had throughout the day demonstrated a genuine shared commitment to make DLWP as welcoming as possible for staff and audiences of all ages and backgrounds, needs and creeds.

Our Ambitions

This session was just the start. The first of four throughout the year that will involve us all with the aim of giving us the knowledge, confidence, and tools to address Diversity, Equality, and Inclusion within our workplace.

We all want these sessions to lead to long-term culture change at the Pavilion. Working with Natasha in such a discursive manner feels like a great way to achieve just that. Over the coming year, we will be producing an ‘Action Plan’, informed by our staff, that embeds Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion in everything we do – in a way which is meaningful to us, the DLWP team.

After each session, we hope to bring you a further blog from a different member of the Pavilion team, enabling you – our community – to come on the journey with us.”

By Dan Scales, Fundraiser

Read our full Equality, Diversity and Inclusion statement here.

What our team said

“As a newcomer, this was a well timed experience.  I have loved being welcomed into the team from across all aspects of the building, but to see what I was really part of, the large scale staffing, the ambition, the realities made me feel incredibly proud to be a member of the team.  The people in the building give it its personality, and keeps the essence of the space alive, knowing that we are being invested in, asked questions, and listened to was really important”

“Natasha and Ebi made us all feel very comfortable, the training was relevant to us, and encouraged discussion.  It was really refreshing that collectively, it wasn’t seen as an opportunity to be negative, but realistic and optimistic about change.  The main thing I took from it was that people were keen to function and operate more smoothly and to spend more time with each other; choirs, bands, yoga, parties – it shows the people power of the Pavilion”

Posted by Max Mowbray on Thursday 31 March 2022