University event to discuss lack of inclusion and diversity in creative arts

Mon 04 January, 2021
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The University of Bedfordshire’s popular Beds Talks series returns for 2021 to discuss the presence of inequality and lack of diversity in the UK’s creative industries.

This first event of the year, ‘Decolonising Artistic and Cultural leadership / transforming the creative industries’, features representatives from the University, Arts Council England and Bute Street Film and Art Festival.

The online event takes place on Thursday 28th January, is free and is open to students, staff and all members of the public. Simply sign up via the Eventbrite page – attendees will receive a Zoom link closer to the event date.

Event: Beds Talks: Decolonising Artistic and Cultural leadership / transforming the creative industries
Time: 4-7pm, Thursday 28th January 2021
Location: Zoom – Links will be sent to registered individuals
Tickets: Register for your free ticket here


With Covid-19 having had a disastrous effect on festivals, events and creative industries, the discussion will question the long-term consequences that the pandemic could have on inclusion and diversity practices in the arts sector.

Led by Dr Violet Cuffy, Senior Lecturer at the University’s Business School, this Beds Talks event will include a round table debate and a small group discussion, with five breakout rooms being hosted by panellists Emma Gill, Amanda Egbe, Dr Tamara Ashley, Terry Adams and Benjamin Cyrus Clark.

Violet CuffyThe interactive discussion will also invite the audience to consider whether higher education can take the lead by decolonising the curriculum and beginning to value knowledge outside of academia.

As a Board Member for the UK Centre for Carnival Arts, Dr Violet Cuffy hopes the event can give voice to a much-needed movement of change. She said:

Hosting a Beds Talk is a good way to raise the profile of the work we do as academics here at the University and serves to showcase the wider impact of our research and innovative teaching strategies on the community, both locally and internationally.

The focus on decolonising the curriculum and creative industries is timely given the issues we have faced globally over the last two years and the number of closures of black, Asian and minority ethnic-owned artistic and creative small businesses, as well as the large portion of individuals and families who have been negatively affected by the pandemic.

We look forward to a wide cross section of stakeholders joining us for this Beds Talk as we explore these issues to give voice to varied aspects of the conversation and to help shape how we move forward as key influencers in higher education, preparing graduates for their place as future leaders in the industry.

Benjamin Cyrus ClarkBenjamin Cyrus-Clark is Director and Founder of the Bute Street Film and Art Festival.

He says he jumped at the chance to be involved in this Bed Talks event as he has experienced first-hand the inequality and lack of diversity in the British creative industries. He said:

The topic of this Beds Talks discussion is extremely important to me. It is very much a part of my lived experience being a creative in the UK.

I want to be a part of a discussion that doesn't just lead to more discussion but real tangible, quantifiable change. Decolonisation of the arts is about taking control of the narrative from the 'old guard'. That is part of the foundation that Bute Street Festival is built on, giving those who aren't usually given a seat at the table a voice to express their art how they wish to.

The way creative industries currently work is not fit for purpose. Art, in my opinion, should be accessible to everyone. Until everyone feels - whether they choose to act on it or not - that they not only have permission but the right to be there and be taking part we need to keep on challenging and keep on evolving.

Click to book your place now!

Arts and Culture Projects Manager at the University, Emma Gill, believes that higher education does have the tools to be a leader of change.

My role at the University means I sit at the intersection between both the education sector and the creative industries. Both have a history of systemic inequality that needs to be reconsidered, but equally both sectors have the tools through pedagogy and creative innovation to consider and develop tangible change.

This is why I am passionate about the opportunity that this Beds Talk can bring, and I am thankful to the University in continuing to demonstrate its role as a widening participation university.

I see this as a starting point, and I hope colleagues and the community will join us in kick-starting a very necessary conversation.

In its fourth year, the University of Bedfordshire’s Beds Talks series are a programme of community-facing events that are driven by topical issues and current University research.

Register to join Beds Talks: Decolonising Artistic and Cultural leadership / transforming the creative industries for free now via Eventbrite.

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