Black History Month at New Art Exchange, Nottingham
Black History Month is a time to reflect and celebrate the pioneers that strived for equality, creating a greater acceptance of our differences. This October, New Art Exchange offers a wide variety of events looking at the culture, history and current concerns of black communities in the UK.
The rich programme is thought-provoking and educational, combining music, discussion and film to represent a wealth of ideas and perspectives. All the events are free and are open to all.
New Art Exchange (NAE) is the largest space for culturally diverse arts in the UK, based in the multicultural inner-city neighbourhood of Hyson Green, Nottingham. Whilst their interest in representing Black Asian Minority Ethnic audience extends throughout the year, Boseda Olawoye, Community Engagement Producer at NAE, describes why Black History Month is important.
“NAE will be taking a different approach to Black History Month this year – considering the past, present and future experiences of the black community. It is particularly important in the wake of these turbulent times and the unsettling political climate of post Brexit Britain for our programme to give a safe and open platform for people to express themselves and their opinions.”
Taking inspiration from NAE’s exhibition, Fighting Walls + a rebel scene, NAE’s Black History Month programme is inspired by activism. A highlight of the season is a screening of Generation Revolution – a hit among independent film festivals – exploring black and brown UK-based activists who are changing the social and political landscape in the capital and beyond. Directors of the film, Usayd Younis and Cassie Quarless are joined by Black Lives Matter UK: Nottingham Activists Group members Bo Olawoye and Jacob Oti to reflect on the project and the future of the movement in the UK.
Throughout the year, NAE work alongside a community-led steering group ‘Back to the Future – Black Collective’ to deliver their events programme. Their event, Am I Black for Only 31 Days? is a public debate and community panel exploring the question – What does Black History Month mean to the black community? The discussion is fuelled by a short film by Ioney Smallhorne featuring members of the collective interviewing people, representing various voices from the black community in various areas of Nottingham.
Black Collective member and Art Activist, Josephine Taylor, contemplates the social importance of Black History Month, but also its limitations- a topic of discussion central to the event: “This is a topic that I have had much discussion about and I am excited to hear the thoughts of other members of the community. I love the opportunity to learn more about the history of black people, discovering new heroes and learning the truth that has been hidden for so long, as it is a source of much pride. However, 31 days is too short to cram in an aeon of history before the majority of the world turns its gaze away again. This month for me serves as a constant reminder that I was born, raised and live in a time where our story is viewed as a footnote rather than as world history.”
A discussion event, Beyond the Walls: Murals as Activism reflects on the success of Nottingham’s first Black History Mural located outside of NAE’s café. The mural, Pathways, was created by young people at Hyson Green Youth Club in June 2016 through a partnership New Art Exchange and the Centre for Research in Race and Rights (C3R) at the University of Nottingham. The event is an open conversation about the impact and legacy of murals locally and globally, and is accompanied by a new film, Beyond the Walls, that tells stories of hope, struggle and survival from around the world through murals.
Music lovers can experience a soul-stirring performance by Nottingham-born MOBO Nominee, Freddie Kofi and his dynamic choir, Present Future Generation Choir. The event premiers his new song Slave?, and is followed by a Q&A focusing on the themes and lyrical inspiration for the song.
Thursday 13 October, 6.30pm – 8pm
Freddie Kofi: Slave?
Thursday 20 October, 6.30pm – 9pm
Beyond the Walls: Murals as Activism
Saturday 22 October, 2pm – 4pm
Am I Black for Only 31 Days?
Thursday 27 October, 6.30pm – 9pm