Food for thought – a recipe for rich conversation

Cultural organisations in Yorkshire have been coming together to discuss and debate diversity at a series of events called Food for Thought. Led by the cultural sector in Yorkshire, Food for Thought is part of a wider initiative – The Creative Case for Diversity.The Creative Case is the Arts Council’s approach to placing equality and diversity at the centre of the creative process.

The Food for Thought events brought cultural leaders together to share knowledge and reflect on how the sector can collectively push the boundaries of its thinking, programming and audience engagement as well as create a community of practice around diversity.

Designed to provide opportunities for fresh thinking, the facilitated sessions included performances and expositions from poet John Siddique, dancer Rashmi Sudhir and musicians Richard Ormrod and Jez Colborne.

Events took place in Sheffield, Bradford and Hull with an additional plenary session in Leeds. Five new collaborations and partnerships have already been seeded as a result of the project. A visual evaluation will be available and widely distributed soon.

Wendy Harris, Artistic Director at tutti frutti productions, said: ‘Food for Thought provided an opportunity for the arts sector in Yorkshire to meet, discuss and explore our ideas around the issues of diversity and inclusion. It was a good opportunity to chat with those you don’t get chance to engage with and to explore more fully our thinking with regards to our creative practice. It reminded me that we need to keep talking and exploring and asking ourselves tough questions and that this is the only way we can really invigorate and create an inclusive arts sector.  I look forward to more conversations and hope this leads to some real changes.’

Wesley Zepherin, Relationship Manager at Arts Council England, added: ‘Food for Thought has been a unique and fun way to engage the sector in talking about equality and diversity. It created a recipe for rich conversation, and fresh divergent thinking. The programme has reenergised how we connect with and deliver on equality and diversity, and has made a significant impact that will help place diversity at the centre of artistic and curatorial practice.’

Food for Thought has been led by an ideas group including Dan Bates from Sheffield Theatres, Anne Cunningham from The Art House, Nima Poovaya-Smith from Alchemy, David Porter from Hull Jazz Festival and Tim Wheeler and Julia Skelton of Mind the Gap. The project has been managed by Alchemy.

Food for Thought was just the start of the conversation and is the first part of a three-year regional programme. The aim is that by the end of the programme there will be a measurable shift in how the cultural sector engages with diverse artists, work and audiences.

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