of people to be marching the streets all over the world for people to think there might be something in this racism thing.
GY My last book was about all the kids that were shot dead in one day in America, and there was one boy whose mum was documented in Houston, and I sent his family the book, and his sister put the page with his name up on Facebook. Her brother had died, and she said, look, Edwin’s in a book – kind of like the authentication that he existed. It was weird; it was barely written about in the local press. And then someone came back to her on Facebook and said, oh, maybe he could write a book about Rio? And then you realise that there are other kids who have been shot who haven’t been documented. So the children involved in Year 3 going and seeing themselves in this hallowed space can’t be underestimated.
exhibition. So, for these children to have their first encounter with a museum, to find themselves on the walls – hats off to Tate. I know that, within that group of over 76,000 children, there’ll be some amazing artists and many amazing people in other areas – but, in a wider sense, the project could fundamentally change children’s perception of themselves and what they can achieve. And I don’t say that lightly.
GY I want to talk about how, in different ways, you tell stories. To me, Year 3 is storytelling as well as photography – it tells a story of a moment in time and place. With COVID-19 and the arts, and the debilitating effect it’s having on the ability to tell and transmit stories, you worry about the impact of COVID-19 on people going to films, going to galleries, going to the theatre. Is that something that particularly concerns you at the moment?
SM Year 3 is, for me, like a Trojan horse. I hope it’s going to change a lot of children’s, and also parents’, ideas of who they are and what is possible. Hopefully, it will have huge ripple effects.
But I also want to say this about Tate: they took a chance on Year 3. I used to take it for granted that every child goes to museums, as I did, but this doesn’t always happen. The project has had a huge educational aspect, with a major outreach campaign to recruit and engage primary schools – with specially created learning resources and educational workshops. Tate also arranged school visits for all the pupils featured in the
SM Absolutely. My main worry is that the landscape of the arts will be decimated by COVID-19. The billions of pounds the creative industries create for this country, as well as the joy and the wellbeing of the population through enjoyment of the arts cannot be undervalued. I’m hoping that there will be proper financial support for these institutions in financial crisis. It is serious. Post-COVID we might not have an arts sector to go back to in the way that it was before. And I don’t want it to become a situation where access to the arts becomes special, or only for the privileged few. We can’t allow that to happen.
Letitia Wright as Altheia Jones-LeCointe, one of the leaders of the British Black Panther Movement, in Steve McQueen's Small Axe, Mangrove 2020
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