East Street Arts Associate Artist Season Butler hosted this roundtable discussion on 21st October 2021 – exploring radical visions for how artists can be supported, and the changes needed to improve the arts sector for everyone with a stake in UK culture. Season was joined by panellists Zita Holbourne (artist and activist with Black Activists Rising Against Cuts (BARAC), PCS Union, Artists’ Union England), Dr Amit Rai (Queen Mary University of London), Lena Šimić (performance maker and Labour Councillor for Anfield Ward) and Chardine Taylor Stone (Black feminist activist, writer and public speaker) – who assembled to focus on what we need rather than what we believe those in power will give us.
Season Butler is a writer, artist, dramaturg and lecturer in Performance Studies and Creative Writing. Her writing, research and art practice centre around intersectionality, the opportunities and traps of hindsight and hope; and what it means to look forward to an increasingly wily future. She lives and works between London and Berlin.
Dr. Amit S. Rai is Reader in Creative Industries and Arts Organising at Queen Mary, University of London, where he has also taught critical marketing studies and business ethics. He is author of Rule of Sympathy: Race, Sentiment, Power 1760-1860 (Palgrave, 2002) and Untimely Bollywood: Globalization and India’s New Media Assemblage (Duke UP, 2009). He has taught at the New School for Social Research,
Florida State University, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, the Dutch Art Institute, and Lorton Maximum Security Prison. His current research touches on critical management and organizational studies of the creative and cultural industries in the UK and India, the gendering of affective labour in social reproduction in India, media practices of commoning, and hacking and piracy ecologies in the UK and South Asia.
His monograph on work-around practices in Indian urban digital ecologies, Jugaad Time: Ecologies of Everyday Hacking in India, was published in 2019 by Duke University Press.
Zita is an award-winning human rights and equality campaigner, trade union and community activist, public speaker and a multi-disciplinary artist – visual artist, designer, curator, poet / spoken word artist, author, writer and vocalist.
She is the co-founder and National Chair of Black Activists Rising Against Cuts (BARAC) UK, the National Vice President of the PCS Union and Joint National Chair of Artists’ Union England.
She is a founding member of BME Lawyers for Grenfell and BAME Lawyers for Justice and a Windrush Justice campaigner and was joint National Co-ordinator of the Windrush Day of Action.
She is part of the UNESCO Coalition of Artists for the General History of Africa and the curator of the Roots Culture Identity art exhibition, established in 2013 in memory of Stephen Lawrence.
She is the author of the book Striving for Equality Freedom and Justice, fusing the poetical with the political and is featured in the award-winning book, Here We Stand, Women Changing the World. She is a contributor to numerous books including New Daughters of Africa. Zita campaigns for equality, freedom, justice and human rights through arts and activism.
Lena Šimić is Liverpool-based transnational performance maker, local politician, activist, pedagogue and scholar researching contemporary performance and the maternal as well as arts responses to the climate crisis. Reader in Drama at Edge Hill University. Lena was a co-organiser of the Institute for the Art and Practice of Dissent at Home between 2008 and 2018. Currently a Labour Councillor for Anfield Ward and Chair of Climate Change and Environment Select Committee at Liverpool City Council. (75)
Chardine Taylor Stone
Chardine Taylor Stone is an award winning Black feminist activist, writer and public speaker.
She was featured in The Voice newspaper as one of the Women Who Rocked the World in 2015, Diva Magazine’s LGBT Power List 2016 and Buzzfeed’s ‘The Most Inspiring British LGBT People Of 2016‘. A regular on the Pride Power List, in May 2017 Chardine won the British LGBT Award for ‘Outstanding Contribution to LGBT+ life’.
In 2018 she was nominated by Diva Awards for LGBT Activist/Campaigner of the Year and has again been nominated by Diva Awards in 2020 for Unsung Hero.
Chardine previously founded Black Girl’s Picnic, a movement in collective self care for Black women and girls, and Stop Rainbow Racism which worked to stop racist performances in LGBTQI venues.
As a writer, educator and anti-racist activist Chardine often uses music, art and fashion history to instigate socio-political analysis. She lectures and facilitates workshops on topics such as Black feminist histories, Black Queer identities, Afrofuturism, music subculture histories and Black involvement in the esoteric, weird and downright bizarre!
Chardine is currently working on her first book Sold Out: How Black Feminism Lost its Soul, a critical analysis of the neoliberalisation of Black Feminism, to be published by Cassava Republic press in 2022.
The transcript of the round table session is available below: