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Black Futures: 11 online and in-person events this month

Black History Month test events at Coventry's Belgrade Theatre kickstart a new model for celebrating Black creativity in the West Midlands.

A wide-reaching and holistic programme includes support for black businesses, a natural hair workshop, performances and an interview with Coventry grime artist Static.

Motherland by Ayesha Jones

In the wake of recent Black Lives Matter protests across the world, refugee-led arts organisation Maokwo has teamed up with the Belgrade Theatre to develop Black Futures, a pioneering online and in-person programme that will ask urgent questions about where we go from here. 

A multi-disciplinary celebration of black creativity, collaboration and entrepreneurship in the West Midlands, it features visual art, photography, poetry, discussion, performance and live workshops as artists, businesses, cultural leaders and young people take over the building, testing out new ways of sharing creative work as we emerge from the Covid crisis, co-created by young people through its Yxng & Gxfted initiative. 

Events taking place in October and November will lay the groundwork for ongoing collaborations in the lead up to 2021, ensuring Black voices continue to be heard throughout Coventry’s City of Culture year and beyond, long after Black History Month is over.

Exhibition: Motherland, Belgrade Theatre, online from Mon Oct 12 

Credit: Ayesha Jones

Photographer and Belgrade Theatre audience development officer Ayesha Jones travelled with her mother to Burkina Faso, Togo, Ghana and Benin over three years, setting out to deepen their understanding of their ancestors’ culture and history. Combining analogue and digital photography, this exhibition captures their journey and efforts to reconnect with their roots. 

Black Futures Exhibition, Belgrade Theatre foyerOct 15 – Nov 2 
Local creators from Maokwo’s Fusion Artist

Network and Yxng & Gxfted programme respond to the theme of Black Futures with a visual art exhibition comprising painting, photography, sculpture and the live creation of an installation piece. Displayed on both floors of the Belgrade Theatre foyer, the exhibition will feature work by Ryan Hart, Japhet Dndinganga, Zoey Sibanda and more. A virtual walk-through will also be available online. 

Boys to Men – Mind Taster Workshop, Thurs Oct 22, Online  

Research shows that black men are much more likely to be diagnosed with severe mental health problems than their peers. Yet before the age of 11, there is no evidence of poorer mental health among Black boys than in other children of the same age. Led by a representative from mental health charity Mind, this online workshop at 7pm will explore the causes of this disparity, and what can be done to help support young Black men’s mental health. 

Maokwo’s Yxng & Gxfted Panel Discussion, Sat Oct 24, Online 

An exploration of Black Futures developed by and for young people aged 11-18. The discussion will be held online via Zoom  6-8pm, – places must be booked in advance. 

Creativity as a Form of Activism: Yxng & Gxfted workshops 
Fri 30 Oct, Online  

Young people aged 11-18 are invited to reimagine their futures through a series of workshops led by young artists from  Maokwo’s Yxng & Gxfted programme between 12-4pm. Three workshops focused on visual art, music and poetry will explore how the arts can be used as a form of activism, inviting participants to develop their own creative responses to George Floyd’s death and the Black Lives Matter movement – places must be booked in advance. 

Supporting Black-owned Businesses, throughout the month, Belgrade Theatre foyer 

Throughout the month, the Belgrade will be offering up space in its foyer for Black entrepreneurs to display flyers and information about their businesses. To enquire, please contact Ayesha Jones by emailing ajones@belgrade.co.uk

Performance: Black FutureBelgrade Theatre B2 Stage – Fri 30 Oct &
Sat Oct 31, Online  

Maokwo’s artistic director Laura-Nyahuye. Photo by Nicola Young
  • Join artists and speakers from the Maokwo Fusion Artists Network to wrap up the month with an evening of socially distanced performance and discussion, either in-person at the Belgrade Theatre or online. Facilitated by Maokwo – an emerging, migrant-led company supported by the Belgrade’s Springboard talent development programme – this live event will be divided into two parts at 6-8pm and 7-9pm , followed by a chance to visit the Black Futures exhibition in the Theatre foyer. 
  • Kicking off the evening, performance poets John Bernard and Chrissie Okorie will use spoken word to convey what Black Futures means to them. A second, interactive performance will follow, with Maokwo Artistic Director, storyteller and body adornment artist Laura Nyahuye joined by designer, storyteller and lecturer Pam Samasuwo-Nyawiri for an on-stage exploration and celebration of difference. 
  • This double-bill of creative reflection will ask questions about how we communicate the need for change, and celebrate the diverse backgrounds and specialisms we draw upon to do so. 

Natural Hair Workshop, Early November – Date TBC, Online 

Local hairdresser Naomi Richards will be giving an online demonstration of her work with natural Black hair, which will be shared alongside stories from the community about their own hair stories. 

Workshop: Dear Black Women, Early November – Date TBC, Online 

Serena Flaidbury presents a toolkit for overcoming trauma aimed at supporting Black women. Adopting an Afrocentric perspective, her work caters to those who may be less well served by Western systems of healing. 

Workshop: Body Mindfulness Meditation, Early November – Date TBC 
Online 

Static: In Conversation, Early November – Date TBC, Online 

Join local grime artist Static for a short performance, followed by an in-conversation exploration of his work in the context of Black Futures and what it means to be a young Black man in Britain today. 

Details of how to book can be found at belgrade.co.uk/whats-on/black-futures

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