ASTONish & RePresent leadership programme, 2016 to 2018

I so enjoyed being part of ASTONish and I genuinely appreciate the energy and engagement of the crowd…Keep doing what you are doing.  It’s so important not only for Birmingham but the whole of the UK’s cultural life.

Zoe Whitley, Curator Tate Modern
RE:Present symposium attendees Photo Credit – Joshua Swetnam

Two of the most influential projects on my current work and approach have been RE:Present and ASTON-ish, which sought to develop the leadership capacity of people from diverse backgrounds.

The statistics about the under-representation of women, people with disabilities and members of marginalised groups is well documented. What this work did was change my understanding of what’s needed. The impact of this work was reported in Arts Professional and New Art West Midlands.

RE:Present was a pilot initiative aimed at cultural leaders, producers and artists from diverse backgrounds who are currently under-represented in Birmingham and the Wider Midlands region. Curated and produced by Helga Henry with Creative Consultant Lara Ratnaraja, and supported by Birmingham City Council and Arts Council England, the pilot led to a network of over 40 artists, curators and producers who continue to reach new achievements and create new collaborations, but crucially are also transforming the way cultural leadership is evolving in the city. 

ASTONish followed RE:Present. Also funded by Birmingham City Council, and developed during at Birmingham Hippodrome, ASTONish was a programme of cultural leadership and creative entrepreneur training and development.  It was aimed at emergent and established artists, musicians and creative entrepreneurs in Aston and Newtown with the ambition and potential to transform both themselves and the sector. View the BCU evaluation of the programme

Also, just to say, thanks really, the work that you [Helga] and Lara did strikes me as basically unlike anything else I’ve seen happening, and I think that a bunch of that has to do with your qualities as leaders and facilitators; a genuine breath of fresh air in the context of all these other white run and white curated leadership and talent development programmes

Javaad Alipoor – Northern Lines