Arts Advocacy

 

In 2012 I founded the £3000 Brunel International African Poetry Prize, with funds from Brunel University London and Commonwealth Writers of the Commonwealth Foundation. The prize aims to celebrate and develop poetry from Africa at a time when few poets are getting published. To date there have been four winners and nearly all the winners and shortlisted poets have had chapbooks published with the New Generation Series, African Poetry Book Fund, University of Nebraska. http:///www.africanpoetryprize.org. These poets are in the vanguard of the renaissance in African poetry.

In 2006 I initiated the Free Verse report into the lack of publishing opportunities for poets of colour in the UK. (It 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. I followed this up by initiating The Complete Works, a Spread the Word literature development programme to mentor poets of colour, now running for a second time. To date 30 poets have been on the scheme and have been/are mentored by many of Britain’s leading poets. Over half of these poets are now publishing critically-acclaimed poetry books and projects, and winning numerous awards and nominations. https://thecompleteworkspoetry.com/

From 1995 -1999 I was a founding Director of Spread the Word literature development agency with Ruth Borthwick, London’s premier agency of its kind, committed to providing a wide range of top quality creative writing workshops, courses and talk shops, especially aimed at groups under-represented in literature. Spread the Word is now in its twentieth year.

In 1997 I organised Tracing Paper for Spread the Word, the first conference on black British writing, held at the Museum of London.

In 1995 I organised Future Histories for the Black Theatre Forum, the first major conference on black theatre in Britain, held at the South Bank Centre, London.

In 1982 (-1988) I co-founded Britain’s first black women’s theatre company, Theatre of Black Women, with fellow graduates Patricia St. Hilaire and Paulette Randall, now one of Britain’s leading theatre directors.