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A&H Episode 5: Reactivating Sounds of Blackness by Vanley Burke and Gary Stewart
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Vanley Burke sound installation exploring Black culture in Britain to open in Handsworth, Birmingham

Vanley Burke with Gary Stewart of Dubmorphology as part of Arts&Heritage Meeting Point programme

A community soundscape project featuring voices, spaces and sounds from Birmingham is coming to Handsworth Park

A digital exhibition will be live for 2023 and forms part of the Arts&Heritage Meeting Point programme.

The Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC), National Trust and YHA, and Museum X – a project creating Britain’s first museum celebrating Black British history, art and culture – will take part in a year-long artist-led research project with leading contemporary arts agency, Arts&Heritage, to explore how artists can expand our understanding of heritage.

Part of the Arts&Heritage Meeting Point programme, each organisation will work with a contemporary artist to spotlight what is missing from their histories; exploring the importance of social organisations and navigating intangible heritages to expand people’s understanding of heritage stories.

The three organisations will each present a new piece of work by their selected artist that helps challenge public perceptions of cultural heritage and explores how underrepresented communities have shaped British history.

Stephanie Allen, Executive Director of Arts&Heritage, said:

“Throughout the Meeting Point programme we’ve supported museums to present their collections in new and innovative ways by working with leading contemporary artists. This time, we want to work beyond the walls of a museum with organisations who have influenced our wider cultural heritage, drawing attention to their importance. Meeting Point is embracing a new creative approach and the collaborative research uncovered will pave the way for more non-traditional museum and heritage organisations to collaborate with artists and make visible a more diverse and complex national story.”

The RSC will work with composer, vocalist, and performance artist, Liz Gre, to elevate stories by Black people, Indigenous people, and People of the Global Majority – both real and reimagined – that have interacted with the First Folio through collaborative participatory practice rooted in the legacies of Black and Indigenous storytelling. The project aims to start redressing the balance about who engages with Shakespeare and how the RSC can democratise its stories.

Geraldine Collinge, Director of Creative Placemaking and Public Programmes at the Royal Shakespeare Company, said:

“It’s been a delight to collaborate with Arts&Heritage on the Meeting Point programme. We are really looking forward to working with Liz Gre as we approach the 400th anniversary of the publication of Shakespeare’s First Folio and reflect on the plays we would have lost without this book. It is exciting to think about stories in our communities and how we bring the First Folio’s intangible Western history to life for people today.”

Ilam Park in the Peak District was gifted to the National Trust in 1934 on the condition Ilam Hall became a youth hostel to help increase access and engagement with the countryside. The park, youth hostel and surrounding landscape in the White Peak area attracts a diverse range of visitors, with a history of young people visiting via the YHA.

Artist, filmmaker and musician, Luke Fowler, has been commissioned by the National Trust and YHA to explore the legacy of the civil society organisations on the landscape at Ilam Park. The project will also explore how communities are now the holders of its heritage.

Fiona Harrower from National Trust, Ilam Park, said:

“We are excited to have the opportunity to delve into the shared history of National Trust and the YHA at Ilam in this way. Working with Luke, along with community groups and our visitors, it will be fascinating to see what’s uncovered and how the project develops. We are looking forward to discovering what form the final artwork takes and being able to share this work with visitors and the local community.”

Museum X, a Community Interest Company set up in 2021 to explore Pan-Africanism and it’s significance to the centrality of Black Britain, will work with acclaimed photographer and artist, Vanley Burke, on a new sound experience that captures intangible black culture and challenges the public perception of cultural heritage from Windrush driven narratives.

Sandra Shakespeare from Museum X, said:

“We are proud to honour the legacy of the African diaspora in Birmingham, with the godfather of Black British photography, Vanley Burke. With our local partners and diverse communities we are excited to creatively push the boundaries of Black British history to experience spaces of shared cultural significance, outside of museum walls.”

Arts&Heritage forges connections between artists, communities and historic sites and museums to challenge how heritage narratives are explored through national skills development programmes including Meeting Point, contemporary projects, consultancy and advocacy.

The Arts&Heritage Meeting Point programme runs until March 2023.


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