Report from Platform for Intercultural Europe's Fourth Practice Exchange for Intercultural Capacity-Building , held in London on 15-16 December 2010. Compact insights of leading arts practitioners into advancing interculturalism. Reflections on the British and European political context of the arts. Recommendations for advancing the intercultural agenda in the arts.
The Fourth Practice Exchange for Intercultural Capacity-Building was held on 15th -16th December 2010 in Sidcup, London, UK. It was organised by Platform for Intercultural Europe and Border Crossings in association with Rose Bruford College of Theatre and Performance.
The Practice Exchange involved 53 participants from fields of arts and education, from diverse cultural backgrounds in the UK, along with guests from Austria, Belgium, Slovenia, Sweden and Italy. Artists’ intercultural work with ethnic minorities was showcased and discussed by participants made up of theatre practitioners, art consultants, anti-discrimination activists and academics.
Professor Nesta Jones (Head of Research at Rose Bruford) and Sabine Frank (Secretary General of the Platform for Intercultural Europe) welcomed participants and provided the context for the event. The first day presented a range of diversity arts practice; the second day provided viewpoints from the perspectives of policy-making, academics and antidiscrimination.
Michael Walling (Artistic Director of Border Crossings and Visiting Professor at Rose Bruford) provided an overview of his work and the tensions between art forms and policy. He introduced the guiding questions for the event, which were:
· Does the intercultural work of the cultural sector transform into social and political progress?
· What can cultural work contribute to civil society that other agencies cannot?
· What is the level of political awareness in the cultural field?
· Are there true synergies between cultural/artistic work and awareness raising/political campaign work or is cultural work insular?
· How do intercultural arts relate to campaigning for equal rights, social justice, and antidiscrimination?
· How can policy stimulate intercultural dialogue through artistic work?
· Is there a specific role for European institutions in the development of intercultural dialogue?
· Does the work being done in intercultural dialogue represent a patchwork of efforts or a unified social movement?
Jatinder Verma (founder and Director of Tara Arts) gave a keynote presentation, outlining the development of diversity arts practice and intercultural theatre from the 1960s, in the context of mass migration to Britain from the Caribbean and South Asia and the campaigns for civil rights and equity.
David Tse Ka Shing (Director of Chinatown Arts Space and founding Director of Yellow Earth Theatre) spoke about his work with British East Asian communities.
John Martin (Director of Pan Intercultural Arts) presented his approaches to working with refugee communities. Gabrielle Lobb (from Polygon Arts and Freelance Educator at the British Museum) and Femi Elufowoju Jr (Associate Artist at the Almeida Theatre and founder of Tiata Fahodzi) shared their experiences of dialogues between diverse communities and the cultural sector.
Dan Rebellato (Professor of Contemporary Theatre at Royal Holloway University of London) spoke of the impact of globalisation on theatre.
Hardish Virk (Audience Development Consultant, and director of Multi-Arts Nation) shared his experiences of audience development and research with South Asian Communities.
Ansel Wong (Managing Director at Tsingtac Associates Limited) spoke of the need to claim public space for minorities and challenge exclusion, with particular reference to carnival.
Graham Jeffery (researcher and academic at the University of the West of Scotland) discussed the contradictions of policy that artists grapple with and the need for effective and hybrid forms of evaluative processes.
The presentations were detailed and they are represented as fully as possible here, as they provide a valuable insight into practice and personal experiences of cultural practitioners working in the UK working with intercultural issues.
The Guardian – 30 March 2011:
Cutting diversity in the arts will cost Britain dearly
Minority-led theatre is most at risk from coalition cuts, yet cultural diversity is key to reflecting a true portrait of our country