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Radical Black Art. A Working Convention. 1984

Radical Black Art. A Working Convention. 1984

Events - Talks

Radical Black Art Working Convention Revisited

Two-Day Gathering

18 Mar 2017 - 19 Mar 2017

This two-day event will present a panel discussion, talks, debates, performance and music revisiting some of the conversations that took place in the 1984 Radical Black Art Working Convention in Nottingham. It brings together artists, musicians, art professionals, students, activists and communities from Nottingham and beyond. 

The original Working Convention's main objective was to reflect on an “examination of contemporary Black Art, highlighting its successes and failures relative to the economic, social and political realities faced by the Black Community, both in this country and worldwide”.

This event has been shaped and planned by a community working group, formed by Catherine Ross and Lynda Burrell (from Museumand, The National Caribbean Heritage Museum), Louise McKenna, Nicole Crentsil and David Stickman Higgins. The group has used the original quote from the Radical Black Arts Working Convention programme, as a starting point for the conversation. (see original 1984 programme bellow)

The first day of the convention will be introduced by a panel discussion by some of the artists who organised and participated in the 1984 Radical Black Arts Working Convention.

After the panel, participants will break up into different tables for the afternoon working sessions, where different questions will be discussed, such as: how do we develop a radical critical practice which will inform what is not taught or shown in these institutions? What is the role of the “black” archive? How can we make archives accessible to the communities and general public? How can a black arts archive inform or reflect the past, present and future?

During the second day, each group will discuss what is the best way forward to tackle the issues raised on each table. Where do artists and cultural institutions locate themselves in relation to those issues? Are people willing to create a new movement for social change? Can the Black Arts Movement be an inspiration for that change? What should artists and arts venues be doing in the current political climate? These conversations are urgent – particularly with the rise in hate crime and intolerance locally, nationally and internationally.  



The convention will be co-hosted by Boseda Olawoye (Independent Engagement Curator), and Cindy Sissokho (Touring Programme Co-ordinator at Nottingham Contemporary).

Sat 18 March, 10.15am-6pm

10.15am – The Space opens for registration (refreshments available)

11am - Introduction to the working convention and programme

11.15am – Panel discussion: Marlene Smith, Claudette Johnson, and Said Adrus, chaired by Charles Washington followed by Q&A

12.45pm – Lunch break 

2pm – Table discussions (aproximately 10 participants per table)

For detailed information on table subjects and speakers click here>>

3.45pm – Break (refreshments available)

4.15pm – Table discussion exchange

5.30pm  Recap on Day 1

5.45pm  Panya Banjoko spoken words/poetry performance

6pm – Convention ends

7.30pm – Live music in the Café.Bar with Mellonie Page / Raphael Blake (tbc) / Untold Rhythm. 

Sun 19 March, 10am-3.30pm

10am – Exhibition Walkthrough by Marlene Smith, Claudette Johnson, and Said Adrus 

11am – Continuation of table discussions (follow up from Day 1) over brunch

12.30pm – Action plan to tackle the discussed issues

3pm – Conclusions of the convention

3.30pm – Convention ends


This event is free but booking is essential as there is limited capacity. Priority will be given to participants able to attend the two days of the convention. 

Vegan food and refreshments provided by Yemoja Foods.

To book, send an email to or call us on 0115 948 9750


Special thanks to Catherine Ross and Lynda Burrell (Museumand, The National Caribbean Heritage Museum), Louise McKenna, Nicole Crentsil and David Stickman Higgins for their support and to everyone who participated in the first meeting on January 14 2017.

This event is part of the touring programme of the Lubaina Himid and The Place Is Here exhibitions in partnership with Modern Art Oxford, Spike Island, Firstsite and Harris Museum & Art Gallery.



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