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Public Statement from the Committee of Cinespace

 

Cinespace is a non-profit incorporated association run by a dedicated and culturally-diverse volunteer board. Since 2016, we have worked hard towards a single mission: to create opportunities for skills development for culturally-diverse Victorians, to bring about greater representation on screen and behind-the-scenes.

 

We provide access programs that build skills and that help level the playing field for culturally-diverse screen practitioners, while ensuring the highest quality standards for creative stories and the people who make them. Much of what we do is focused on the development of early-career practitioners.

 

In making sure that the industry is a safer place to work, we also offer cultural consultancy to any production company in Victoria seeking to build more diverse teams and to apply best practice. We believe there is a place for education work, the future is inclusive, and the diversity in our art needs to be authentically represented. 

 

We believe that communities must be at the centre of telling their own stories. Cinespace agreed to come onboard to assist with outreach and consultancy for Princess Pictures/SBS production of an anthology series, Living in Australia. This was a show that was pitched to us in which cultural communities represented would be a big part of telling their own stories. Providing cultural consultancy services to the production together with SBS, we would be helping to make the production safe for participants. 

 

This show would create opportunities for diverse emerging creatives and practitioners to learn, and importantly, there would be a diverse team at the helm. This was also the first production by a recently appointed (POC) Producer with the company, a past board member with whom we have a longstanding relationship and whom we trust.

 

Combined, we believe that skills, opportunities and cultural education to industry players are important actions toward a more diversified screen industry.

 

Our final reason for getting involved in this production was the history of the production company and acknowledging the hurt that has been caused by some of their past productions. We were being asked to work collaboratively to ensure responsible cultural diversity and a safe, culturally-inclusive production process across all stages. It was because, rather than in spite of the production company’s particular history, we felt an obligation to offer this support to help safeguard culturally-diverse creatives and crews who would work on this show. 
 

We believe that ALL production businesses should access cultural safety training so that there can be safer spaces for diverse employees. “Nothing about us without us”. Inclusion is the future.

 

We engaged in the production of Living in Australia in good faith, with clear terms of reference. 

 

Cinespace is proud of the work we do, and stand by our role in serving the needs of the community through our engagement and action. Despite what we felt were the right intentions at the time, we have also listened this past week as many have voiced that trust has not yet been adequately restored to have faith in this production, being made by this company, at this time. Listening to the communities we represent has to be at the forefront of our decision-making as an organisation.

 

We understand and stand by the concerns of sections of the community, and after careful consideration, our Committee has made the decision to step down from our role on this production. As of the time of this public statement, we will no longer be accepting story submissions for the initiative on our website. 

 

We are a community-led organisation and our focus was and shall always be to act in the best interests of the communities we represent. It is unfortunate that Cinespace has been mischaracterised in this process, and we are disappointed that some of our committee members have been blocked from social media channels around the current discourse. We believe in the importance of platforms for balanced discourse around issues of representation. We may not always agree on how we get there, but the conversation is important for our understanding and education. 

 

We respectfully request that our members are unblocked from the Diversity in Australian Media Facebook group because we belong to this community we serve. This space belongs to the community, where we can safely engage, share and grow. We welcome a discussion on how our community should be engaging with cultural safety practices moving forward. To do this, we need to create a space for proper discourse. 

 

Our door remains open to listen to and support any screen practitioner from culturally-diverse communities whether involved in this or any other industry production, and to educate production companies where we can around cultural issues. As an organisation, we believe the best way to help our community is not only to empower diverse creatives to realise their work, but also empowering industry to work with diverse creatives, create safe spaces to do the work and be better diversity allies. 

 

We advocate that this is a time for all involved to listen, to engage openly and constructively, and to demonstrate intentions through action. 

 

Cinespace’s goal is and remains to complement community sentiment with real, tangible actions that generate skills and develop talent. 

 

19 October 2021