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'Many institutions do not reflect the city' - meet the woman making Liverpool's arts scene more inclusive; Liverpool's major cultural institutions need to better represent the city's black and ethnic minority residents, says Jubeda Khatun.

Byline: Lisa Rand

Liverpool's arts organisations do not reflect the diverse ethnic make-up of the city's people, says the organiser of a festival dedicated to showcasing the work of black and ethnic minority artists.

Jubeda Khatun says that while there are many BME artists and creative, they are not fully represented by the city's major institutions.

The arts director, a co-organiser ofBlackfest, said: "Arts has always been a thing in the Black and ethnic minority community in Liverpool and there are so many talented creatives out there - it's just such a shame we don't have that much presence in the arts institutions in the city.

"There needs to be a conscious effort for outreach. We're trying to network and build that bridge.

"It's about representation. It really matters. If you go into some institutions there is not much representation of people of colour.

"It is about reflecting this city, its communities and the different perspectives people have. I feel currently many institutions do not reflect the city."

Festival will celebrate black and ethnic minority artists in Liverpool

Jubeda initially worked as an administrator but after taking a short acting for camera course decided to pursue a career in the arts.

After completing a degree in performing arts at Salford University, she last year won a place on the Artistic Director Leadership Programme, a nationwide scheme that helped provide the contacts and industry knowledge for her to launch Blackfest.

Her co-organiser Blue Saint is an award-winning poet, spoken word artist, actor and musician, who came to the UK from Congo as a child and started writing songs in Liverpool aged seven.

Stories from L8

By the age of 12, he became involved with award-winningToxteth-based theatre company 20 Stories High and took part in a young writers programme with Writing on the Wall.

He went on to win a major national poetry grand slam championship and, as a musician, has opened for artists such as Ed Sheeran and Akala.

Jubeda and Blue initially set up a Facebook group for Liverpool Black creatives after meeting at a networking event and realising the need to connect artists within the black and ethnic monitory community, and to create links with the city's arts institutions.

Jubeda said: "Blackfest want to use arts as a tool for social change and community cohesion, bringing a positive impact on L8 and neighbouring areas supporting Black and ethnic minority communities in education and empowerment.

"We just want to connect people and provide a platform for our artists to flourish and succeed.

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"It's all about raising the profile of lack and ethnic minority artists to help bring about equality of representation in our arts institutions."

"We want to bring casting directors down, help artists find ways to access funding to develop projects and introduce artists to contacts at local venues.

As well as the week-long festival, which opens on September 23, Jubeda and Blue have been holding a series of community engagement events to help develop local artists.

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Jubeda said: "The response has been amazing. We've had ladies taking part in our Empowering Women project saying that the rehearsals are a thing in their life that makes them happy.

"We have also been doing clay workshops, and linking up with various arts groups in Liverpool 8 and elsewhere to ensure that there is as much community involvement as possible.

"We're really looking forward to this year's festival. There are events going on all over the place. It's all very exciting."

Blackfest is based at the Kuumba Imani centre on Princes Avenue in Toxteth, a location which means that Jubeda and Blue are right in the heart of Liverpool 8's creative scene, with nearby Windsor Street home to over a dozen arts organisations based in Toxteth TV, John Archer Hall and Toxteth Library.

Blackfest begins with a launch night atUnity Theatreon September 23 and events run throughout the week at various city centre venues,including Hope Street Theatre, 24 Kitchen Street and theEveryman, culminating in a celebration evening at thePhilharmonic Hallon Hope Street.

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Credit: Jubeda Khatun

Credit: Blackfest
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Title Annotation:What's On
Publication:Crosby Herald (Liverpool, England)
Date:Sep 9, 2019
Words:701
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