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Dialogues – Towards Change: Rights and Representation in the Visual Arts

23rd Sep 2019

Dialogues – Towards Change is an invitation to come together to address rights and representation in the visual arts sector, initiated by CVAN South East in partnership with a number of our network organisations.

A series of three public events will together champion positive change in the visual arts ecology by showcasing best practice and informing the development of a new phase in the network’s activity in South East England. Each event will include a number of short presentations, facilitated breakout sessions, panel debate and open discussion among other forms of exchange and expression.

The three consultative seminars have been made possible with financial support from Arts Council England. CVAN South East is offering a limited number of bursaries to people who may not otherwise be able to attend.

Join in the conversation #DialoguesTowardsChange

Dialogue 1: Artist Placemaking
Saturday 9 November, 12-4:30pm
Phoenix Art Space, Brighton

The first event will examine how creative places such as Brighton can be shaped by a more diverse artist community, making reference to this city as a case study to provoke wider discussion. The event will explore artists’ agency and representation in the cultural community; its challenges, and the opportunities for the right to freedom of artistic expression and creation to be fulfilled. It is being organised in partnership with a number of Brighton organisations, including Fabrica and Lighthouse.

The seminar will be facilitated by Tony Heaton, Artist and Chair of Shape Arts. Guest speakers include: Jo Offer, Louella Forrest and Desmond Lake from Rocket Artists, artist Jackie Bennett, and Writer and Curator Jamila Prowse. Plus from our partners and network members: Alli Beddoes, Artistic Director and CEO of Lighthouse, Kate Davey, Step Up Coordinator, Outside In, and Liz Whitehead, Director of Fabrica.

Dialogue 2: Inclusive Practice
Wednesday 20 November, 11-5pm
MK Gallery, Milton Keynes

As part of Project Art Works’ EXPLORERS Conference, which takes place at MK Gallery on Wednesday 20 and Thursday 21 November, CVAN South East is partnering on a Dialogues seminar on the first day; putting neurodiverse artists and makers at the centre of the conversation. Be part of a collaborative, inclusive and progressive event examining rights, institutional empathy and how to support and nurture more diverse practice in contemporary visual art.

The Dialogues seminar will be chaired by consultant Dominique De-Light. Speakers include: Ella Ritchie, Director of Intoart, and Dr Peter Baker from the University of Kent. Plus, from our partners and network members: Kate Adams MBE, Artist Director and CEO, Project Art Works, Marc Steene, Director, Outside In, and Shoair Mavlian, Director, Photoworks.


Video written and directed by Nadia Perrotta
Camera Benjamin Crawford
Music by Aurora by ARCANUM

Dialogue 3: Participative Institutions
Monday 17 February, 12-4:30pm
Modern Art Oxford

The final Dialogues seminar will investigate participatory models for cultural institutions and the leadership role they might play as agencies for change. The event will ask how organisations can extend their relevance to a wider section of society, remove barriers to participation and shift hierarchical or exclusive cultures. Contributors will examine the influence of institutions to challenge conventional thinking; as well as the many external pressures which prevail on institutional working. It is being organised by CVAN South East in partnership with Modern Art Oxford.

The event will be chaired by Lara Ratnaraja, cultural consultant. Speakers include: Richard Duriez, key manager at Film Oxford, Farhana Ghaffar, researcher and evaluator, Richard Hunt, founding member of the Shadowlight Artists, and Ali Eisa, Public Program Manager (Education) at Autograph. Plus, from our partners and network members: Kate Adams MBE, Artist Director and CEO, Project Art Works, and Paul Hobson, Director, Modern Art Oxford (Please note the programme is subject to change.)



Tony Heaton (Chair) – Tony has worked in the field of disability, diversity and social justice for his whole career, with experience gathered from working as a Field Officer for RADAR (now Disability Rights UK), Development Officer for  NACAB Citizens Advice, Director of Holton Lee and most recently as Chief Executive of Shape Arts, a disability-led arts organisation working with major cultural institutions and disabled people as artists and audiences.

Jackie Bennett – Jackie has been creating in woven form for over 20 years. She trained as a tapestry weaver at West Dean College. She explores themes of personal relevance, such responses to local landscapes and Chinese medicine. She teaches one-to-one and small groups at home, and runs bespoke workshops for groups and in community settings. Jackie exhibits her work locally, nationally and internationally and undertakes commissions. She is a member of Outside In, The British Tapestry Group and the East Sussex Guild of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers

Louella Forrest – Louella has an established practice spanning photography, curation, performance, drawing and design. She has been a member of the Rocket Artists since 2006. Her recent PhotoFringe commission; ‘What happens when I take your picture?’ explored curation and collaboration. Louella is a member of the inclusive curation teams for Side by Side exhibition, 2013 and Art By Johnny: exploring inclusive curation, 2018. She developing new artworks for Rockets Arts Council England funded exhibition Work in Progress, showing at Phoenix Art Space, March-April 2020.

Desmond Lake – Desmond has an established drawing and sculpture practice and has been a member of the Rocket Artists since 2009. He has participated in public workshops, including at Tate Modern during ‘It’s a Wrap’, Inclusive Practice and Research book launch 2015 and has exhibited work at Atelier Art Gallery, Amsterdam 2016 and Crawford Gallery, Cork, 2013. He is developing new artworks for Rockets Arts Council England funded exhibition Work in Progress, showing at Phoenix Art Space, March-April 2020.

Jo Offer – Jo is co-ordinating Director of the Rocket Artists supported studios. She is an artist, designer and educator whose practice and research explores inclusion. Using such tools as visual communication, collaborative design and social engagement, her work aims to provide opportunities for those who face additional barriers to be involved in creativity, ask questions and develop solutions – for themselves and for others. Jo is also Senior Lecturer on MA Inclusive Art Practice, University of Brighton.

Jamila Prowse – Jamila is the founding Editor-in-Chief of Typical Girls, an alternative women’s publication which showcases the work of female creatives. She works across the arts as a freelancer in roles spanning project management, events management, digital communications, facilitation and curation. Jamila was an emerging curator at Brighton Photo Fringe and has managed Lighthouse’s Last Dance programme. She is predominantly interested in representation and accessibility within the arts sector.

Alli Beddoes – Alli is Artistic Director and CEO at Lighthouse. She leads the artistic and strategic vision and programme , with a focus on representing an inspiring and challenging range of voices and art forms in art, technology and society. She has more than 15 years of experience working with leading contemporary artists such as Ryan Gander, Random International and TeamLab. Before joining Lighthouse, Alli worked at Futurecity as Head of Arts & Commissioning, producing a programme of temporary and permanent commissions across the globe.

Liz Whitehead – Liz is the Director of Fabrica, a visual arts organisation based in the heart of Brighton. Fabrica was established in 1996 by a group of artists as a focus for contemporary visual art practice. It encourages an open dialogue between artists and visitors within the gallery space and produces an integrated programme of education and audience development activities that strives to remove barriers to engagement and understanding. Fabrica believes everyone should have the right to access and participate in the arts and  works with a wide range of local partners to deliver those opportunities within and beyond the gallery.

Kate Davey – Kate is the Training Programme Manager at Outside In and leads on their Step Up training programme. She completed an MA at the University of Sussex in 2012, where she specialised in outsider art. Since then, she has worked for several charities that support artists facing barriers to the artworld, including an arts and criminal justice network, and the arts and health programme for the NHS mental health service in Sussex. Kate also coordinated the European Outsider Art Association Conference in 2018.

Dominique De-Light (Chair) – Dominique has spent the last twenty years working with people with complex mental, social and physical issues, enabling them to move from society’s margins to the mainstream. Dominique devised the Creative Future Writers’ Award, a national writing development programme which celebrates talented, under-represented writers who lack opportunities due to mental health issues, disability, health or social circumstance.

Ella Ritchie – Ella is co-founder and Director of Intoart, an art and design studio in South London working inclusively with people with learning disabilities. Their vision is for people with learning disabilities to be visible, equal and established artists. Intoart’s artistic programme creates opportunities for production, leadership and audience engagement.

Dr Peter Baker –  Dr Baker is a Senior Lecturer in Learning Disability at the University of Kent and a Chartered Clinical Psychologist. He has many years’ experience as a clinician working for the NHS, primarily as a clinical psychologist in Sussex where he led one of the country’s specialist support and intervention services for people with intellectual disabilities who present challenging behaviour.

Kate Adams MBE – Kate is an artist, activist, and is Artist Director and CEO of Project Art Works. She has initiated many responsive, collaborative projects with children and adults who have complex support needs and their families, care services, artists and galleries. Kate co-founded Project Art Works in 1997 to explore an expanded conception of art that was and continues to be influenced by her son, Paul Colley, who does not use language to communicate. His experience illuminates the barriers faced by people in a neurotypical world as well as the wonder of other ways of being.

Lara Ratnaraja (Chair) – Lara is a freelance cultural consultant specialising in diversity, innovation, leadership, collaboration and cultural policy implementation within the HE, cultural and digital sector. She works with arts organisations and universities and also is Programme Curator of Hello Culture and co producer of the RE:Present and ASTONish diverse leadership programmes. She is on the Area Council for Arts Council Midlands.

Richard Duriez – Richard is a key manager at Film Oxford, which is a Creative and Educational Charity based in East Oxford that was founded in 1975. He has a background in filmmaking and TV production. He founded the Shadowlight Artists project in 2009 with visual artist Chris Oakley to support artists with learning disabilities to attain recognition as professional artists. The group have gone on to win awards and to exhibit locally, nationally and internationally.

Richard Hunt – Richard is a founding member of the Shadowlight Artists who works in painting and Installation. He is the first artist with a learning disability to win the Shape Open national prize for his painting Totem Pole. A documentary about his installation piece Rocking the Boat on the Beach which was exhibited at Modern Art Oxford in 2018 is being screened at Assim Vivemos (Living This Way), an international disability film festival in three major Brazilian cities this December (Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paolo and Brasilia).

Farhana Ghaffar – Farhana is a researcher and evaluator specialising in social mobility and equality and diversity within education and the arts. Farhana’s research draws upon collaborative, creative and participatory research methods and uses oral history, in-depth interviews and focus groups. She has extensive experience of working within community arts research and has collaborated with the Heritage Lottery Fund, Nutkhut and On the Record on a diverse range of local projects. Farhana is a PhD candidate at the University of East Anglia. She has been commissioned by CVAN South East to report on the Dialogues Towards Change programme.

Ali Eisa – Ali is an artist and Public Programme Manager (Education) at Autograph in London. His background includes social circus, community arts and youth work with organisations including Albert & Friends Instant Circus and Hounslow Action on Youth. Ali is lecturer in Fine Art at Goldsmiths and exhibits nationally and internationally as part of collaborative project Lloyd Corporation. He coordinates Autograph’s education programme, producing interactive workshops and events for a diverse audience to engage with Autograph’s exhibitions and photographic archive. Autograph’s mission is to enable the public to explore identity, representation, human rights and social justice through work produced by artists who use photography and film.

Oliver Sumner – Oliver is Manager of CVAN South East, a network of 22 organisations working together to create a stronger visual arts ecology for the region. A specialist in creative learning and visual arts engagement, Oliver’s independent activities include evaluation, research and project management for cultural organisations such as Arts Council Collection, Hayward Touring, the National Saturday Club, and Tate.

Image: Autograph Encounter, EXPLORERS, 2017 © Project Art Works.

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