This year FIHRM's annual conference, hosted online by National Museums Liverpool (NML) on Thursday 16 September, will focus on the right to culture for everyone in the context of contemporary issues.
Through a series of free live panel discussions, topics will explore how museums can respond and take action to break down barriers of inequality to build a shared sense of belonging. This much needed dialogue will provide a space where people can come together to talk freely and safely about the role museums play in this – and what the call to action should be.
Art is a human right, and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 27, states that culture is fundamental to human dignity and identity. Cultural rights are inseparable from human rights, and the current scenes from Afghanistan have been devastating and further emphasise the significance of understanding the link between cultural rights and human rights.
Accessing and enjoying culture is an important part of being a citizen – part of a community – wider society. Cultural expression and identity are increasingly under attack; intensified with the global pandemic, social and cultural inequalities have been further devastated.
Laura Pye, Director of National Museums Liverpool said:
"FIHRM brings together people and organisations from local and international communities, to have the opportunity for dialogue and to exchange best practice in empowering museums to do this, and to stand up against prejudice and inequality. We cannot disconnect from societal conflicts, contentious content, and contemporary dilemmas. Communities and cultural associations play a fundamental role, and we look forward to exploring these angles with you."
"Having been established since 2010 by NML, this year's conference marks the final session led by NML. From 2022, FIHRM will be coordinated by the Fundación para la Democracia Internacional in Argentina, with its CEO Guillermo Whpei acting as FIHRM President. We are extremely proud of FIHRM 's achievements over the last decade; from engaging with sensitive and controversial human rights themes, to finding new ways and initiatives within a supportive environment. We look forward to seeing FIHRM go from strength to strength in the future and will continue to be one of its greatest friends and contributors."
Accessed online via www.fihrm.org participants can register to take part in a day of inspirational talks and workshops, beginning with keynote speaker Malik Al-Nasir (British Guyanese poet and spoken word artist), who will discuss how colonialism and slavery destroys identity and disrupts the historical transition of cultural self-awareness for the Black Diaspora. He will refer to his own activism and cultural awakening – taking attendees through a personal journey.
This will be followed by an interactive debate on the importance of access to culture and whether this is a privilege or human need and delving into how museums are acting. This session will look at international examples from museums and organisations working to build awareness, create access and enable equal opportunities for everyone.
Increasingly, we have seen how online abuse against those standing up against racism is on the rise. Many museums and cultural organisations face criticism for speaking out about inequality and representation, leaving staff open to being the target or in some cases the subject of abuse. How do organisations safeguard their staff? How can museums stand up for their values in a public forum? This workshop will address some of these issues, and collectively find recommendations about how we may start to feel more prepared to deliver a strong response in support of fight against racism and inequality.
The penultimate event will be with Guillermo Whpei, FIHRM President & David Fleming, FIHRM Founding President and current Vice President, where they will debate topical challenges for human rights museums and make the case for museums to step up to the plate. Finally, our evening keynote will be with Dr Halima Begum, CEO of The Runnymede Trust.
There has never been a more pressing moment for museums and organisations within the arts field to come together and share learning of how museums can stand up against injustice and safeguard those working towards breaking down the walls of abuse, prejudice, and discrimination. Join us and be part of some of the most pressing questions and challenges facing human-rights museums; and how we can all challenge contemporary racism, discrimination, and other human rights abuses.