spaces to speak
Spaces to Speak began life as an R&D project funded by Plymouth Cultural Investment Fund in October 2020. The project was borne out of a desire to initiate a different kind of dialogue within Plymouth’s creative sector.
The project focussed upon the visibility of African, Caribbean, Asian creatives from a range of arts disciplines, within Plymouth’s cultural sector. The purpose of the project was to help raise the profile of Black and Brown creativity and voices in Plymouth and to develop conversations to improve dialogues and connections between creatives and arts organisations in the city.
Our aim was to counter the usual responsive, thematic projects that arts institutions can generate in response to racism, which are invariably shortsighted and short lived. This project took a slow listening approach, offering Black and Brown creatives a space to speak. Our approach was rooted in conversation and listening, with openness and care.
"This is a conversation I didn’t know I needed to have"
Six interviews with Black and Brown creatives (living or working in Plymouth) were undertaken which unfolded personal and professional narratives of their realities and engaging with Plymouth’s creative sector.
We discussed their creative practice, their experiences of everyday racism and microaggressions and how this impacts their well-being as an artistic practitioner. In addition, conversations were also held with a number of arts organisations in the city to talk about their working relationships with Black and Brown artists including structural inequalities and their plans to create change in the future.
We wanted to find a way to highlight the richness and realities of people’s stories by working creatively with the recorded interviews. Our aim was to be able to share these with the public and other arts organisations in the city to begin and broaden the conversation.
There were several outcomes to this project, one of which was commissioning artist, writer and archivist Lauren Craig to work creatively with the interview recordings. Funded by Arts Council England, Plymouth Culture and Plymouth Barbican Theatre, the commission resulted in 'On The Tip Of My Tongue': public interactive 'listening journeys' across Plymouth, and a performance by Craig at the Immersive Dome. More details of the the other project outcomes will follow soon.