Sade Banks, CEO and Founder of Sour Lemons, announces the April 2021 Big Squeeze collaboration with the Royal Court Theatre and Young Vic. They have both signed two-year strategic partnerships to identify and dismantle systemic racism within their organisations with social enterprise Sour Lemons.
Each organisation will have a dedicated team of Associates, led by incoming Director of Programmes, Shoomi Chowdhury, to interrogate internal structures that uphold systemic racism and create barriers for underrepresented communities.
Sour Lemons will work alongside each theatre to build awareness of how systemic racism manifests within their organisations. Each partner will establish two internal working groups who will be central to driving this work forward and developing a culture of accountability: an Anti-Oppression Group consisting of white senior leaders and an Accountability Group consisting of colleagues with mixed racial identities from across the organisation.
Partners will be releasing their learnings and progress at the end of each six-month cycle, to share the challenges and opportunities created when dismantling systemic racism.
The Sour Lemons approach is adaptive – each programme evolves in response to the lived experiences of racism found in the organisations they work with.
Sade Banks, CEO and Founder of Sour Lemons said: “The commitment the Young Vic and Royal Court Theatre have made and continue to make, not just to the partnership but in creating a culture that is accountable and hostile to racism, sends a strong message to the rest of the industry. This work has been happening behind the scenes for the past year and Sour Lemons are excited now to announce it publicly.
“Our mission is to make the truth irresistible – if it becomes impossible to not be aware of how racism manifests, it’s impossible not to do something about it.
“The Sour Lemons model is unique because it responds directly to the lived experiences of racism within the organisation. By centering the needs of Black and Global Majority colleagues, it forces us to acknowledge that racism is happening over here – not ‘over there in America’ or in another institution – here, in the UK and in our sector. This is the opportunity to do something about it.”
Vicky Featherstone, Artistic Director of the Royal Court Theatre and Lucy Davies, Executive Producer said: “We have been looking for an exceptional external partner to collaborate with us on our Anti-Racism and Oppression work. This timely, critical and deep work will help us listen, reflect, learn, grow, be challenged, be visibly changed, and be held accountable. Our Board has been central to this process. We are all very honoured to be selected to be a strategic partner with Sour Lemons for the next two years to do this work, and to be alongside the YV to share and radiate across the sector how we change.”
Kwame Kwei-Armah, Artistic Director of the Young Vic and Despina Tsatsas, Executive Director said: “We could not be more honoured to have Sour Lemons join the Young Vic family as an Associate Company at this precise moment, and as we participate in their ‘Big Squeeze’ programme. Our conversations about working together began well before the 2020 summer of social justice, when we invited Sour Lemons to become an Associate Company, and so we are delighted our ideas are now a reality. Having Sade and her team’s expertise in-house to help the YV tackle the institutional problems that beset our country is an absolute asset. Conversation and learning is being fostered in all areas of our organisation, from our boardroom to our administrative, artistic and production spaces. We are proud to have Sour Lemons as part of the YV, and part of our sector.”