Bernardine is a longstanding activist for inclusion in the arts, initiating many successful projects to address the under-representation of people of colour.
2021 – In my capacity as the Sky Arts Ambassador for Literature, curating the Sky Arts RSL Writer’s Awards, whereby five new writers of colour are mentored by five leading writers for a year. RSL = Royal Society of Literature.
2021 – Curator of Black Britain: Writing Back books series with Hamish Hamilton/Penguin Random House, bringing back out-of-circulation books into print. The first six books, novels, will be published in February 2021. These titles are Minty Alley (1936) by C. L. R. James, Incomparable World (1996) by S.I. Martin, Without Prejudice (1997) by Nicola Williams, The Dancing Face (1997) by Mike Phillips, Bernard and the Cloth Monkey (1998) by Judith Bryan and The Fat Lady Sings (2000) by Jacqueline Roy.
2012 – Founded the 3K Brunel International African Poetry Prize with the aim of developing poetry from Africa at a time when few African poets were getting published. The Prize is supported by Brunel University London. Now entering its seventh year, all the winners and shortlisted poets have had chapbooks published with the New Generation Series, African Poetry Book Fund (University of Nebraska) and some have also now published full collections.
2006 – Initiated the Free Verse report into the lack of publishing opportunities for poets of colour in the UK, which revealed that under 1% of all poetry books were written by poets of colour. This was commissioned by Arts Council London and produced by Spread the Word Literature Development Agency.
2007- Founded The Complete Works (2007-2017), a mentoring programme for poets of colour that saw thirty poets mentored by many of Britain’s leading poets, led by Dr Nathalie Teitler. Most of the mentored poets have now published critically-acclaimed poetry books and won numerous awards and honours. They include: Mona Arshi, Raymond Antrobus, Rowyda Amin, Jay Bernard, Leo Boix, Malika Booker, Victoria Adukwei Bulley, Edward Doegar, Inua Ellams, Will Harris, Sarah Howe, Adam Lowe, Karen McCarthy-Woolf, Nick Makoha, Mir Mahfuz Ali, Momtaza Mehri, Roger Robinson, Shazea Quarashi, Yomi Sode and Warsan Shire
1997 – Initiated and organised Tracing Paper for Spread the Word, the first conference on black British writing, held at the Museum of London.
1995 – Founding Director of Spread the Word (1995-ongoing) literature development agency with Ruth Borthwick, committed to providing a wide range of top quality creative writing workshops, courses and talk shops, especially aimed at groups under-represented in literature. I also organised the seminal Afro Style School for poets of colour. Spread the Word is now in its twenty-third year.
1995 – Initiated and organised Future Histories for the Black Theatre Forum, the first major conference on black theatre in Britain, held at the South Bank Centre, London.
1982 – Co-founded Theatre of Black Women (1982-1988) Britain’s first black women’s theatre company, to give artistic control to black women in theatre. My co- founders were fellow Rose Bruford School of Speech and Drama graduates Patricia St. Hilaire and Paulette Randall.