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Welcome


So – welcome to “Staying In” – a collection of articles and blog posts, by me and by others that cover some of my professional and personal interests.

It’s October (just) so there’s a strong diversity vibe in honour of Black History month – including a must watch address on it’s origin, a feature on the amazing woman who’s shaking up the largely white world of classical music and an introduction to the, frankly bizarre world of the latest social sensation,  Tik Tok.

So there’s lots here to do with that extra hour you’ll get this weekend.  Dive in.

Photo by Ines Dalal

New Leadership Diversity Report now Launched


The West Midlands Screen Bureau (prior to closing this summer) commissioned Lara Ratnaraja and I  to undertake a short piece of research focusing on identifying leadership development pathways for a diverse and thriving creative screen businesses in the core business sectors – television, games and film and to take an initial look at diversity in emerging sectors, such as AR and VR.

The report which will soon be published here  contains the main recommendations and policy improvements from the key research reports relating to leadership and diversity, both in the screen sector and the wider cultural sector.  All such reports are unsurprisingly consistent in identifying the variety of factors that have led to a predominantly monocultural workforce in the screen industry.  Class, race, physical ability and bias, both conscious and unconscious, all play a role in the creation of opportunity and inclusion.

Across the board, the studies show that people on lower incomes are less likely to work in the arts and creative industries. Without relevant role models in the arts and creative industries, it’s no wonder that people from similar socio-economic and ethnic backgrounds are often disengaged.  

This report has added to my growing interest and expertise of leadership in the context diversity which was started with RE:Present and ASTON-ish (which you can read about here).  If you would like a copy of the new screen sector  report when it is available email me - helga@helgahenry.com

Chineke Orchestra 

“When one door closes, open it.  It’s a door.  That’s what doors do!”  
 

A few weeks ago I saw the Chineke Ensemble play a lunchtime concert at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire at BCU.  As well as thinking how brilliant it was to go to a lunchtime classical music concert (and they happen at BM&G, Birmingham Cathedral and the University of Birmingham if you can’t get to Eastside), I noticed how the audience for this ground breaking ensemble was genuinely more diverse than it is for other classical performers.

Chineke! Foundation (Chineke is a combination of Ibo words Chi – meaning God or guardian and Neke -the creator of all good things) gives a platform to musicians from BAME backgrounds and in addition to the Ensemble, created the first orchestra for Black and Minority Ethnic musicians. 

If like me, you hugely enjoyed Sheku Kane Mason’s recent Prom with the CBSO you perhaps noticed that Sheku was the only person of colour performing on that platform.  With recent cuts to music services that will only get worse with calls to nurture musical talent at primary level. If you are interested in the state of the music scene generally in the Midlands you can read this recent report from BOP consulting here.

And the repertoire is not expanding either – Chi Chi’s recent opinion piece in the Guardian pointed out “The Proms run for eight weeks, with two or three concerts a day, but you’ll have to listen carefully for music composed by anyone other than a white male – in total there will be less than four hours of it, and less than 20 minutes from black and minority ethnic composers, throughout the whole season.”

Chi Chi is a charismatic and inspiring leader of Irish and Nigeran descent.  I urge you to find out more about her story and background in this podcast (or check out her Desert Island Discs).  

Meet Tiktok!

(...unless of course you've met already)

OK – so I’ll admit that until I heard Nick Robertson speak at Hello Culture recently I had never even heard of Tik Tok – so I’m not going to claim any huge prior knowledge.  Although if you have younger children perhaps you are already more than familiar with this strange world of memes, lip synching and talent videos.

Tik Tok is a new(ish) platform where the content is just 15 seconds of content.  Most importantly the app allows people to make similar content with in-built music, image and special effects all built in.  I’m vaguely obsessed with the “I used to be so beautiful” meme, described brilliantly here by Wesley Morris, Critic-at-Large from the New York Times: 

"In the opening halves of their clips, users mouth the lyrics, usually in sweats. (This is the “used to be so beautiful” part.) Then, in time with a stutter in the beat, they cross both arms above their heads or in front of their middles, and whip them up and down two times, like salad days Britney Spears. And suddenly they’re hot zombies or flirty princesses, walking in place but sexily. (The “look at me” part.) There are scores and scores of “Used to Be” videos."

Back at Hello Culture, Nick showed how the BBC were using the platform to make playful content and get people joining in – with dance moves from the “Greatest Dancer” on one side of the screen and talented people joining in on the other.

Why should we be bothered?  Well, it’s been downloaded a billion times since it’s launch, it learns what you like to watch and even veteran internet guru Gary Vaynerchuck reckons it’s worth 1% of your attention as a way of keeping on trend and freshening up your media content on other more “traditional” platforms.  Click here to read how five New York Times critics share a more cultural commentary on TikTok content.

Top staying in goodies

TO READ:
Having recently taken up yoga I struggled, frankly, with the frustration of feeling slow, big and clumsy in a sea of “yoga bunnies”.  So I was particularly drawn to “Every Body Yoga” by Jessamyn Stanley which showed me that comparison is the least “yoga” thing you can do in class. This book provides a body positive approach to yoga which celebrates students’ bodies and encourages them to ask “How do I feel?” rather than “How do I look?” when practicing yoga. (Beware however, her Instagram feed is not much yoga and quite a lot of underwear, legalising cannabis and sex toys!)

TO WATCH ONLINE:
As Black History Month draws to a close for another year watch British rapper, journalist, author, activist, poet and political activist Akala speak about the origins of the event and the functional manipulation of history to prop up slavery and oppression. Passionate, articulate and learned, you will love listening to Akala.  You can’t catch the slides on this film but it does have the Q and A in full – the talk itself is about 50 minutes long.

TO LISTEN: 
This could have been my book recommendation this month too.  In this podcast from the Freud Museum, psychotherapist Phillipa Perry discusses “The Book You Wish Your Parents Had Read (and Your Children Will be Glad That You Did)”.  A rallying cry for parents to be in touch enough with their feelings and fears to be able to repair any ruptures caused by the feelings and fears of their child (although I’m not sure about the voice she puts on when representing a child!).


I hope you have enjoyed this edition and thanks for your encouraging comments so far.  The next "Going out" will take us right up to Christmas. Let me know your feed back and please do forward this e-mail to a friend or colleague who may find it of interest - or better still ask them to sign up by sending them to this link!

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