Who Am I? An Exploration of The Arts Community.

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Photography by Jay Lee.

Shades of Noir started off the new term with a challenging yet extremely significant panel discussion called “Who Am I? An exploration of the arts community” talking about Diversity in the Arts, its presence today and what the future can or should look like in the creative industries. As new students embark on a fresh creative journey this autumn with UAL, it becomes extremely important to address the inclusivity and acceptance towards diversity for a more honest creative expression by all. The event took place at the enchanting Green Room of Chelsea College of Arts on Wednesday, 28 September 2016, and was attended by over 50 people including UAL students, UAL staff and external guests.

The Panel

Danielle Scott-Haughton

A 27- year old creator, writer, director, and producer of the multi-award winning web- based drama series “Dear Jesus” and its spin-off “The Alexis Show”, Danielle is UAL graduate with BA Honors in Broadcast, and now uses film as per medium of expression and inspiration.

Ella December

Another UAL graduate with BA in Journalism from the London College of Communication, Ella has made her mark in the world not only through a magnificent career as a music journalist but also as an author of  3 novels – Crossroads, Dirty Diamonds and Mimi Memoirs.

Hassan Mahamdallie

As a senior strategist at Arts Council England (ACE) till 2013, Hassan worked on ACE’s many projects on diversity and equality for the creative industries, the most important being The Creative Case. He has recently returned to playwriting, with a one-woman show The Crows Plucked Your Sinews, and is also a published author.

Nike Jonah

Nike works in strategic development across the cultural and creative industries worldwide, and since the 90s has developed innovative approaches to a number of creative projects for organisations in Africa, America, and Europe. She is the Director of Connecting Dots, Director of Afrovibes UK and co-founder of Pan African Interdisciplinary Performing Arts Market.

Moderator: Hansika Jethnani

UAL’s Education Officer, with a BA Honors in Photography from London College of Communication, Hansika has worked with both UAL staff and students for improving university policies.

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The Discussion

Diversity can mean several different things to different individuals, but in essence, it is about understanding and recognising that each individual is unique, and has the right to be accepted and promoted irrespective of their differences of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, age, religious or political beliefs or other ideologies. Diversity in the arts becomes even more important, because only when there is a diverse representation can there be an inclusive illustration of our culture through creative output.

This short film by Kai Lutterodt, made as part of the Diversity Matters Awareness Week 2016 has captured various views on diversity:

 

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Everyone has a responsibility towards achieving this, and this discussion brought to light many instances of how we, as creative individuals, can identify these opportunities and play our part in helping every student realise their creative potential to the fullest. The panelists discussed three primary questions:

  1. What does diversity mean to you, and what kind of personal experiences have you had in your own professional experience?
  2. What would your ideal diverse industry look like?
  3. How can students contribute to bringing diverse representation to the forefront?

One of the most important means to achieving diverse representation talked about was the process of networking, with panelists reiterating how important it is for everyone, especially people of colour or of a particular ethnicity, to contribute, interact and participate in multiple platforms. They also talked about the role young professionals in creative industries, and their role in breaking hierarchical structures of our current society.

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Interactions with the Audience.

This is a topic that affects all of us, and it was exciting to see the audience participating with inputs of their own. With questions ranging from future employment concerns to platforms for creative presentation, interactions with the audience resulted in enriching the discussion further and opening many new areas for dialogue and discussions.

The onus lies on us – to understand the need, to speak up and to ensure diverse participation in our creative endeavors. It is important for us to realize that opportunities exist all around, but it is how we use them that makes all the difference.  

Find space in the city, exhibit you own work, create platforms for dialogues and discussions, interact with people, and take a small step towards a better future for the arts!

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KEYWORDS

Diversity, Equal Opportunities, Inclusivity, Panel Discussion, Diversity in Arts, Representation, Creative Case

FURTHER READING

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