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In-between Spaces: Inclusion and Representation of Central and Eastern European (CEE) Artists in the UK Creative Economy

The principal goal of this project is to support the efforts of Centrala towards promoting the inclusion of CEE artists in the UK creative economies. It does this in two ways:
•    Research into the (under)representation of CEE artists in major UK galleries, arts festivals and cultural events
•    Creation of a network of UK-based CEE artists, organisations that represent them, heritage managers, and policy-makers in the field of culture

Context

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 (Halej, 2015). 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 (e.g., Fitzpatrick et al., 2017; Fox and Mogilnicka, 2017).

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.


Outputs
As part of the scoping activity, the project team organised a series of workshops and a conference focusing on diversity and CEE artists. The events brought together academics, artists, heritage managers, organisations representing CEE communities, and policy-makers (see below).

The final output of the project will be a policy report targeted at funding bodies, heritage managers and cultural policy-makers, due for publication in January 2021. It will be available open-access on a dedicated area of Centrala’s website and in a printed summary form to be distributed by Centrala and other partner organisations.

Events Organised to Date
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)

 

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