Diverse Actions: SKIN in the GAME
17 July 2019
SKIN in the Game was a day-long programme of discussion at Z-Arts in Hulme, Manchester, marking the beginning of the culmination of Diverse Actions.
The symposium was the first event in a series of planned legacy initiatives, including a publication, Vanishing Points, in 2020. The programme has been active for three years, championing diversity within the Live Art sector. The Diverse Actions programme has included: helping artists with professional development, supporting the creation of new work, building upon strong leadership and stimulating discourse to ensure a lasting legacy.
SKIN in the Game brought together of a representative cohort of artists, journalists and researchers of colour from across the UK, offering a platform to thinking and discussion around ghettoisation, radical constitutions, anti-racist work, representation and leadership within both Live Art and wider culture. It was imagined as an open space for discursive honesty.
“This is not a training day, it’s not a day for answers - it’s a day for listening.”
Amy Lawrence, Diverse Actions
SKIN IN THE GAME consisted of discussion, workshops and performances. Afreena Islam and Harold Offeh hosted a morning of flash talks and provocations from speakers including Hetain Patel, Annie Jael Kwan and Hardeep Pandhal regarding the sharp questions around diverse programming. Jade Montserrat hosted an extended interview with Chanje Kunda around Kunda's experiences navigating cultural and legal systems. Over the lunch break, attendees could watch a durational screening of a film by Hetain Patel, or enter into conversations regarding Live Art and diversity with Cecilia Wee, who is one member of the collective undertaking the Live Art Histories and Futures research project.
In the afternoon, Paula Akpan, CEO of Black Girl Fest, delivered the keynote address on leadership and attendees participated in workshops re-imagining Live Art of the future with Season Butler, or joining Jack Tan to consider possibilities around decolonising governance and queering constitutions: if we were to centre the anti-racist, feminist and queer ways of being what would a company’s or charity’s constitution look like?
Following a dinner break, a trio of Diverse Actions artists presented short performances: Alexandrina Hemesley, a dance artist and writer and one half of Project O, performed a new work, Embers; Season Butler performed an excerpt from her lecture performance, Happiness Forgets, about race, sex, nostalgia and familiarity; Nima Séne presented an excerpt of Beige B*tch, a visually challenging, multimedia theatre performance concerned with black culture, white responsibility and belonging.
The day was documented by Mancunian photographer Chan-Yang Kim and Nima Sene took over LADA's instagram. Commentary on the day was collated by Chrystal Genesis from Stance Podcast with guest host L’Oreal Blackett. Stance is an arts and culture podcast, hosting interviews with a broad range of creatives, including musician Four Tet, activist and writer Janet Mock and choreographer Hofesh Schecter, covering topics such as beauty, the disappeared and the female prison experience.
Practical aid to support the attendance and inclusion of attendees was made a priority in preparations for SKIN in the Game and people of colour were centred at all levels of activity. SKIN IN THE GAME was a free event hosted in a fully accessible building, with a designated quiet room. Live BSL Interpretation was available and the theatre space had an audio induction loop. For those who needed aid in covering the expenses of attending there was a bursary scheme for childcare and travel costs.
Diverse Actions is led by Cambridge Junction on behalf of LAUK, and supported by an Arts Council England Ambition for Excellence grant.