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Harewood stands in solidarity

Monday 8 June 2020

Harewood House Trust stands with Leeds City Council and others around the world in supporting 8for8 this evening, in solidarity with those protesting peacefully against racism.

We recognise the colonial past of Harewood House which was created using the historic wealth of the Lascelles family, garnered from the West Indian sugar trade of plantations, enslavement of people of colour and ownership of ships and warehouses. Today, Harewood House is an educational charity set up to share Harewood’s story, to listen, to learn, and to enrich people’s lives using our collections, surroundings, and our history as means of creating a better society today.

We condemn racism in all its forms, we believe that black lives matter, and we commit to tackling how Harewood shares and confronts the past, and to question what that means for communities today. Harewood cannot change its past, but we can use it as a stark, unequivocal truth to build a fairer, equal future.

As Chair of Harewood House Trust trustees, standing alongside the Trust’s executive and its staff, together we are committed to:

– acknowledging and sharing Harewood’s history;
– understanding Harewood’s roots in money raised from the sugar trade and enslavement;
– representing the BAME communities of Leeds and the wider area in our staff, volunteers and in making all visitors feel welcome;
– collaborating on artistic projects and partnerships that shine a light on Harewood’s past, not shying away from its history but celebrating the positive activity that has grown out of this legacy;
– and ensuring that Harewood plays its part in an equal and fair future for all people of colour.

Work at the Trust is already underway. Iconic projects of the past, such as Leeds-based teacher, director and musicologist Geraldine Connor’s Carnival Messiah, sit alongside supporting the digitisation and making accessible the West Indian Archives in the Borthwick Institute of Archives at the University of York, and at the University of the West Indies in Barbados and the Barbados Museum. The Lascelles family were pivotal in setting up the Leeds-based community and performance-focused Geraldine Connor Foundation, and Harewood Contemporary has supported artist residencies and projects such as Sonya Boyce, Sokari Douglas Camp and most recently Frank Walter’s Flamboyant Trees, opened by Leeds Carnival founder Arthur France in 2017.

We acknowledge that there is a long way to go, that there is much to understand about Harewood’s history, and that there is much to undertake in order for Harewood to fully represent its community.

The Trust continues to develop detailed plans as part of this ongoing commitment to its new five-year business plan, which it will adapt and develop in this new world post COVID-19.

David Lascelles
Chair of the Trustees
Harewood House Trust