OPEN16: Decolonising the Campus / Decolonising the Arts

OPEN16: Decolonising the Campus / Decolonising the Arts


Decolonising the Campus / Decolonising the Arts broadly aims to investigate what it means to create an ethnically diverse culturally rich programme – considering tokenism and, where possible, responding to the following statement with proposed action: ‘temporary projects by well-meaning white institutions do not go far enough to extend arts access to all’ (Rick Lowe, artist).

The day provides a platform to groups and individuals that are actively engaged in positive action in this area within Higher Education and the Arts Sector to share their knowledge: with the objective of stimulating debate, providing best-practice learning opportunities and tools for change.

The day is divided into two sessions:


// Decolonising the Campus \

The morning session uses the recent Green Paper (November 2015) on social inclusion and mobility within Universities as a starting point to explore ‘decolonising the campus’: considering the failure of Faculties, particularly the Arts, to appeal to Black British Students; the interrelation between staff, curriculum content and student body; and how interventions can be made and where.

Presented in partnership with the Centre for Transcultural Writing and Research.


10am Coffee


10:30am Introduction to the Day with Professor Graham Mort

This event began with conversations between Alix Medlyn Davies, Lancaster Arts, and Professor Graham Mort of Lancaster University about staff, students, curriculum and industry. In this short but significant introduction Graham Mort will provide an insight into some of the motivations and aspirations for the day.


11am Carys Nelkon Arts Emergency

Carys Nelkon from Arts Emergency explores the ways Higher Education institutions and arts organisation can do more to exploit their networks and help young people from diverse backgrounds access arts education and employment.

Higher education and creative careers are increasingly inaccessible for young people without contacts and cash. Arts Emergency empowers students without these advantages to access arts education through mentoring and work in schools. Inviting student in further education from diverse backgrounds, between 16-19 years old, to become Arts Emergency’s members the organisation allows young people to explore their options in the arts, media, academia and professions such as Law and Architecture. Their work helps young people build confidence and connections for a successful future in the arts, on their own terms.

Carys Nelkon is an outreach specialist. She has worked in widening participation roles at University of the Arts London and Lancaster University and has run legal inclusion projects at the Inner Temple. She joined Arts Emergency in 2016.




// Decolonising the Arts \

The afternoon session invites arts professionals to consider their role in decolonising the arts sector and hears from those already engaged in exemplary practice in this area.


1pm SuAndi, OBE Cultural Director of National Black Arts Alliance

Read more from SuAndi on justice in arts funding here.

Read more about SuAndi here.

2pm Bo Olawoye Independent Learning Curator & Community Engagement Producer at New Art Exchange

In response to the Symposium themes Bo will discuss examples of innovative models of creative engagement projects and approaches that go beyond ‘tokenistic’ programming. Her presentation features the ground breaking approach of New Art Exchange – the largest gallery in the UK dedicated to culturally diverse contemporary art and recent projects that explore social issues, politics and activism.

Bo Olawoye is the Community Engagement Producer for New Art Exchange, Nottingham (2016- present) and Independent Learning Curator, Consultant and Visiting Lecturer (2013-present). Since 2001 she has worked for The Bonington Gallery at Nottingham University (Nottingham Trent University) (2001 – 2004), Nottingham Contemporary, Tate Modern, London (2008 -2012), Goldsmiths University of London, Backlit Gallery (2013 -2015) and University of Wolverhampton.


3pm Liz O’ Neill CEO of Z-arts on BAME Audiences: Towards Full Representation

Facilitated Workshop

Liz O’ Neill is CEO of Z-arts, Manchester’s venue for children and families. Previously known as the Zion Arts Centre. Liz’s work to refocus, renew and greatly strengthen Z-arts since her appointment has been recognised by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation Breakthrough Fund for visionary cultural entrepreneurs.

As part of the afternoon session Liz will give us a sneak preview of the coming Z-arts national coordinated festival and facilitate an open discussion on BAME audiences and full representation.

Additional session content to be announced soon.