Documenting the Now

The last few months have seen life as we know it turned upside down, with the impact of COVID-19 and the renewed urgency of the Black Lives Matter movement.  We continue to experience change on an international level, and to our lives.  Last year, having led the initiative Archiving the Past, Reflecting the Future, we realised that perspective is everything when it comes to recounting our history; whose stories are heard, what is preserved and how we continue to amplify voices from across the African and African Caribbean Diaspora.  To do this we need to document and archive the now, if we don’t tell our own story then who will.  We need to continue the momentum behind the conversations that shift perspective and reframe narratives as we see them.

In March, as we entered lockdown, we were overwhelmed by the support we received from the international arts community.  Through conversations with artists, we curated Alternative LDIF20, and commissioned 30 Seconds of Freedom, a short film which captured a moment in time as dancers from around the world came to terms with what social distancing and isolation meant for them.  This in turn has inspired 30 Seconds to Treasure where we invite people to contribute to a moment through movement, of resilience and Black joy, which we will share during Black History Month in October.

Just around the corner, we have the first annual Windrush Day lecture from Professor Stephen Small, considering the Windrush generation as living history, and interrogating how we can recognise their contributions and legacies.  We will also be publishing Reflections: Cultural Voices of Black British Irrepressible Resilience to bring to light just some of the ways that the African and African Caribbean Diaspora have shaped visual art, literature, theatre, carnival in the UK.  We are privileged that we are in a position to have worked in collaboration with academics, artists and activists over the last ten years who have paved the way in their work and practice.  With this in mind, we have brought together our podcast, publications and online content in a collection called Resources for Change to support anti-racist education, with direct reference to Black British history, Black dance, arts and culture.

Over the next few months we have a number of opportunities to nurture and support Black artists, and some exciting plans for Black History Month and the LDIF20 Finale.  In the words of Toni Morrison “this is precisely the time when artists go to work.