Ep 4: From where we stand
Hosted by Emily Zobel-Marshall this episode is in conversation with the ‘Leeds 5’: Kully Thiarai, Amanda Huxtable, Keranjeet Kaur Virdee, Sharon Watson and Kathy Williams, five Leeds-based Black and Asian cultural leaders. Together they explore the health and wellbeing of the cultural sector workforce, and intersections with ethnicity and gender.
Please note, this episode features discussion of the death of George Floyd and violence against people from Black and Asian communities.
Dr Emily Zobel Marshall (Leeds Beckett University) – Lecturer in School of Cultural Studies
- Kully Thiarai (Leeds 2023)
- Amanda Huxtable (Creative Producer and Director)
- Keranjeet Kaur Virdee (South Asian Arts UK)
- Dr Sharon Watson (Northern School of Contemporary Dance)
- Kathy Williams (RJC Dance)
Afua Hirsch – Brit(ish): On Race, Identity and Belonging
Layla Saad – Me and White Supremacy: A Guided Journal
Reni Eddo-Lodge – Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race
Akala – Natives: Race and Class in the Ruins of Empire
Brook, O’Brien and Taylor – Culture Is Bad For You
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Dr Emily Zobel Marshall is a Lecturer in Postcolonial Literature at the School of Cultural Studies at Leeds Beckett University. She teaches courses on African-American, Caribbean, African and Black British literature. She has also established a Caribbean Carnival Cultures research platform and network that aims to bring the critical, creative, academic and artistic aspects of carnival into dialogue with one another.
Emily develops creative work alongside her academic writing. She has had poems published in the Peepal Tree Press Inscribe Anthology (2019), Magma (‘The Loss’, Issue 75, 2019), Smoke Magazine (Issue 67, 2020) and The Caribbean Writer (Vol 32, 2020). She is Vice Chair of the David Oluwale Memorial Association, a charity committed to fighting racism and homelessness, and a Creative Associate of the Geraldine Connor Foundation.
Emily’s staff profile: https://www.leedsbeckett.ac.uk/staff/dr-emily-zobel-marshall/
Amanda is Co-Director at Vanitas Arts working in development and funded by XR Stories the Executive team are leading research and practice into immersive digital storytelling with a diverse range of lived life experiences to be told. In 2020 Amanda led as the CEO and Artistic Director of Eclipse Theatre a Black Led Theatre Touring Company based in Leeds.
Amanda is currently serving as Committee Member of Huddersfield Literature Festival and Chair of RJC Dance (Reggae, Jazz, Contemporary Dance) based in the heart of Chapeltown, Leeds amongst the diverse communities they serve.
Keranjeet is head of the South Asian Arts-uk (SAA-uk) based in Leeds West Yorkshire. Her role as the Chief Executive is one that grew organically very much in line with South Asian Arts-uk’s own development. Since 1998, has played a pivotal role in the vision and artistic direction of SAA-UK. She has developed strong partnerships locally, regionally, and nationally with cultural institutes and community organisation and artists.
Kully Thiarai is creative director and CEO of Leeds 2023 – the city’s international year of culture. Having worked with prestigious arts institutions across the UK, Kully is renowned for her bold work exploring themes of diversity and community.
Before taking up her position at Leeds 2023, Kully was Artistic Director and Chief Executive of National Theatre Wales. Her 30year career also includes being the founding Director of Cast – a £22 million performance venue in Doncaster and Artistic Director of Contact Theatre Manchester, the Leicester Haymarket Theatre, Theatre Writing Partnership and Red Ladder Theatre Company. She is a board member of the Manchester International Festival (MIF), The Art Foundation and Leeds based theatre company Slung Low. She is also an Honorary Fellow of Central School of Speech and Drama and a fellow of the RSA.
Established in 1993, Kathy is a co-founder and director of RJC Dance & key developer of its Youth Provision. The award winning organisation is committed to developing a Black British dance language as a strategic narrative as opposed to just a style, building legacy, recognising ancestral data & cultural ancestry. From her own inspirations, as an Olympic gymnast Kathy dedicates her career today going above and beyond to provide children, young people and communities with life changing experiences.
Kathy is the recent recipient of the One Dance UK Life Time Achievement Award in Dance of the African Diaspora.
Sharon Watson is CEO and Principal of the Northern School of Contemporary Dance. Trained at the London School of Contemporary Dance, she was one of the first female Principal Dancers invited to join the all-male award winning Phoenix Dance Company, touring with the company from 1989 to 1997 where she choreographed Never Still and Shaded Limits. Having left Phoenix to pursue a number of other ventures including setting up her own company ABCD, Sharon returned in 2009 as the new Artistic Director.
In November 2020, Sharon was appointed a Deputy Lieutenant of West Yorkshire and awarded an MBE in the 2021 New Year’s Queens Honours
Sharon is a trustee of Leeds Playhouse and Leeds 2023. She is committed to improving diversity within the arts by supporting the creative voices of women and Black, Asian and ethnic minority artists.
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