During years of us working with CEE migrant artists in the UK, we heard so many stories about the discrimination and inequalities. CEE art practitioners not finding suitable jobs in the industry, their education not being recognized, stereotypised image of CEE culture, inadequate 'White Other' box in funding applications along with not perceiving CEE migrants as 'diverse' - all results in the deep underrepresentation in the British art scene. Working with University of Birmingham, we have researched this issue further, interviewing artists and creatives and analysing programmes of arts organisations from the Midlands to get a wider picture of the situation in order to produce the report using the evidence.
This raport is meant to spark a discussion about CEE artists representation in the UK, and to call for fresh look of how the diversity is 'measured' and to review current diversity boxes.
The study was carried out by the University of Birmingham and Centrala, funded by Midlands3Cities Creative Economies Engagement Fellowship, funded by the AHRC.
CEE migrants often feel themselves in a position of liminality in their relationship to the majority population in the UK. They are European, but not Western European, white, but still constructed as being of a different ethnicity. This liminality has a material impact on access to funding and support; Centrala has observed a persistent underrepresentation of UK-based CEE artists in local and national cultural events. This strengthens a sense of social exclusion among members of the communities of which these artists are part. The impact of such exclusion can be seen in the fact that CEE migrants are at significantly higher risk of being affected by homelessness, modern day slavery, and hard-right radicalisation.
Addressing these issues, the project combines in depth research and networking activities. A large-scale scoping exercise determines what work by CEE artists is held and displayed in major UK galleries and museums and shown at major cultural festivals in Birmingham and its surrounding area. The scoping exercise is complemented by approximately twenty interviews with CEE artists, curators of major galleries and cultural decision-makers. We are also running two qualitative surveys: the first is aimed at the CEE communities in the West Midlands and explores their engagement with culture across the region; the second is for CEE artists and cultural economy workers and will add breadth to the in-depth interviews.
Events Organised to Date
The pilot research was conducted by Dr Jakub Ceglarz (in collaboration with Centrala, Prof. Sara Jones and Dr Nóra Veszprémi).
February 2019 Sitting In-Between. This workshop brought together artists, curators and cultural practitioners from the diverse and broad spectrum of CEE countries who live and work in UK to discuss professional development issues that they are facing.
May 2019 Wednesday Canvas discussion at Centrala focusing on practices of inclusion. Developed in partnership with Centrala and Dr Špela Drnovsek Zorko (University of Warwick), who is working on a Leverhulme-funded project, Toward a Diasporic Postsocialism.
June 2019 Postsocialist Britain? A cross-sector workshop which brought together the work of Testimony in Practice, In-Between Spaces and Toward a Diasporic Postsocialism. The aim of the event was to consider how we can collaborate with local communities, artists and other practitioners towards common goals. The workshop offered opportunities for dialogue and networking between different sectors and groups.
September 2019 Second workshop in Pushkin House presenting the interim findings of the project to partners from the Romanian Cultural Institute, the3million organisation, University of Birmingham and Royal College of Art
October 2019 In-Between Spaces conference. The conference brought together researchers and practitioners to explore and problematize the place of CEE artists and their artistic practices in the wider context of migration and diasporic experience. Keynote speakers were Dr Maja Fowkes and Dr Reuben Fowkes
October 2019 Interim policy report launch. A panel of specialists engaged with the first results of our research, followed by audience discussion of the position of CEE art and artists in the UK creative economies. The panel comprised:
- Steve Ball (Director of Culture Central)
- Alicja Kaczmarek (Director of Centrala Space)
- Lara Ratnaraja (Cultural Consultant)
- Prof. Nando Sigona (University of Birmingham)
- Hugh James (Senior Relationship Manager at Arts Council England)
March 2021 Final policy report launch. Prof. Sara Jones presents the findings of the report which is followed by a panel discussion with invited speakers:
- Pauline se Souza (Senior Lecturer in Fine Art at the University of East London, and founder and director of Diversity Art Forum)
- Alicja Kaczmarek (Director of Centrala Space)
- Professor Louise Ryan (Senior professor at London Metropolitan University. Director of the Global Diversities and Inequalities Research Centre)
Discussion is going to be chaired by dr. Kinga Godwin, the Policy Impact Postdoctoral Fellow on 'In-between-spaces' project.
For any enquiries please contact:
- prof Sara Jones: S.Jones.email@example.com
- Centrala team: firstname.lastname@example.org