SHOUT Festival has recently been made aware of the decision made by Birmingham Repertory Theatre to host a Nightingale Court which will be in operation at their venue from December 2020 until June 2021. SHOUT Festival has partnered with the REP for many years to tell the stories of our communities, yet we need to highlight that many members of our shared audiences and these communities have reached out to us to voice concerns that a popular and prominent institution is being used in this manner.
Historically, LGBT+ people have been criminalised by the legal system just because of who we chose to love and who we are. Amongst our LGBT+ POC communities we recognise that POC are overrepresented in all areas of the criminal justice system with institutional racism and unconscious bias creating issues and a lack of trust in a system which often falls short in its treatment of everybody in a fair and consistent manner.
SHOUT Festival recognises the devastating impact the pandemic has had on the cultural sectors and our communities and know that leaders across all organisations are having to make difficult decisions in order to survive and be there for future audiences to enjoy and benefit from. However, SHOUT Festival and its parent organisational Birmingham LGBT has, first and foremost, always advocated for a fair and just world which is free from discrimination and, right now, members of our community feel unsafe and unheard by a space they previously and proudly called their own. We wish to pledge our continued support to Black artists and communities most affected by this decision.
We all have a role to play in order to ensure that this city has a vibrant and diverse artistic sector, and we are planning to meet with the REP in the new year to discuss the concerns of our communities further with them.