How to decolonise and update language to support diversity and inclusion in the arts. Words matter, so be a good human and make these small changes.

When working in the arts we all want to use industry standard language so that we can communicate clearly. But not all of our language supports an inclusive work environment for a diverse range of people. So I’ve put together a short list of some common industry words we can STOP using FOREVER, and I’ve suggested possibly ALTERNATIVES. I keep updating this page, so please feel free to drop me a line with your suggestions so that together we can make arts and culture a place that is evolving, considerate and open to fabulous change.

In the interests of decolonising our language in Photography, Videography and Microscopy please stop saying: SHOOT, CAPTURE, TAKE. Especially when creating imagery in wilderness or images of people. Instead you can replace these words with: MAKE, CREATE, FILM, PHOTOGRAPH etc. When working with people and working in nature we need to shift from an idea that we are there to take something away. Instead we can be present in a location creating something. If we stop using film and photography language like shooting, capturing and taking, we can make a more welcoming work environments, especially for our colleagues who are traditional custodians of country.

If you are scheduling, instead of saying the SHOOT starts at 9am, you can say FILMING or WORK starts at 9am.

When working with AV equipment (sound desks etc) instead of saying MASTER channel (or master anything) you can say PRIMARY, MAIN, CENTRAL, GLOBAL. Any time the word SLAVE is used in audio or electrical work, replace it with the words SECONDARY, FOLLOWER, DEPENDANT.

When using specific audio leads, instead of using the term FEMALE to describe what parts are on the end of the lead, you can say SOCKET (I’m open to suggestions here). And instead of MALE you can say PLUG (also open to suggestions). This language change is in the interests of making the world’s wonderful non-binary and trans community feel safe and seen in the workplace.

Of course you can replace common words that are used to describe groups of people such as GUYS and MEN with words like STAFF, PEOPLE, TEAM. But hopefully we are already there with that one!

Help me fill this page, help me change our gorgeous industry, help me be more considerate to others in the work place.

I understand that it can seem difficult to unlearn language habits, but it’s actually not that hard. You just need to identify these changes as being important and start making a small effort. It may take time. If none of these changes make sense to you, that does not mean they aren’t important. These ideas may be new to you. Stay open to change, it’s good for the brain and great for us as humans.


Dr. Betty Sargeant (she/they) is an internationally acclaimed media-artist whose practice operates at the intersection of art, technology and environmental science. Her immersive and public artworks confront the critical concerns of our time. Sargeant uses sculptural techniques, technology and the medium of light to help audiences create closer connections to their surrounding natural environment.

Sargeant’s artworks have enjoyed extensive exhibition both at home and abroad, including commissioned works for the National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts, the Karachi Biennale, Pakistan, and the Asia Culture Centre, South Korea. Sargeant has a solo and collaborative practice. She has previously worked under the studio name PluginHUMAN with Justin Dwyer and Yorta Yorta artist Lorraine Brigdale.

Sargeant was the Melbourne Knowledge Fellow, the Rupert Bunny Visual Art Fellow and creator-in-residence at the Asia Culture Centre, South Korea. She is the recipient of multiple Good Design Awards and a Premier’s Design Award in recognition of her progressive creative practice.

Sargeant is an experienced creative producer and project manager. She was the director of the Melbourne Moomba Parade where she successfully managed complex stakeholder, creative, budgetary and logistical requirements.

A selection of Sargeant’s previous projects: https://www.bettysargeant.com/about/folio-previous-work

Betty Sargeant lives and works on Boon Wurrung land. She respects First Nations culture and heritage. Always was, always will be Aboriginal land.