Beyond Museums in the Aftermath of Colston: Reimagining Black Pasts, Presents and Futures.

7 Jun 2021

Mon 7 Jun 2021
3pm - 5pm

Bristol Old Vic and Black South West Network to co-host free event marking the anniversary of the fall of the Colston Statue, to explore how we reimagine our cultural history. 

One year on from the fall of the Colston statue in Bristol Harbour, Black South West Network (BSWN) are hosting a free online panel event exploring the decolonisation of South West Museums and Organisations, organised in partnership with Bristol Old Vic.

In the aftermath of the seismic moment of activism which gained national and international attention, the city is still left with many lingering questions: What needs to be in place both in the community and within cultural institutions to achieve a decolonial cultural space? And, most importantly - what is next?

These questions, and more, ground a panel discussion by BSWN: Beyond Museums in the Aftermath of Colston: Re-imagining Black Pasts, Presents, and Futures.

Drawing from National Heritage Lottery funded research conducted by BSWN on the role of decolonisation within South West museum/organisations, this panel brings together scholars, activists, and community members for a conversation around the role museums and other cultural institutions will play in larger conversations and movements around race and racism, Black Lives Matter, the decolonial and cultural heritage.

Do these types of institutional spaces have the capacity to understand the breadth and depth of Blackness and Black life? Can these spaces be repurposed for decolonial desires? What does that even mean?

Sado Jirde, Director of Black South West Network said: "We focused primarily on museums because these are the locations that house the stories of the nation - weaving a narrative of who does/does not belong and why. The lack of Black heritage in particular, is troubling at best for the nation, as we know it would not be here without these communities and histories. Therefore, we are in a time of re-imagining and invite others to re-image with us."

Bristol Old Vic's Director of Engagement, Lucy Hunt said: "We are really pleased to be working with BSWN on this important event. The time is right to hear and discuss the findings from this significant research into the decolonisation of our cultural organisations, to learn from the BLM movement, and to grasp the opportunity to progress the sector as we emerge post-Covid."

The guest speaker for the evening will be Deputy Mayor Asher Craig and key note speaker Dr Errol Francis, CEO of Culture&.

The event will be chaired by Rob Mitchell.

Panelists include:
Dr Errol Francis - CEO of Culture&
Edson Burton - Writer, Historian, Curator and member of Come The Revolution
Lisa Graves - World Cultures and Archaeology Curator
Kelly Foster, Historian
Cleo Lake, Black Artists On The Move
Tom Morris - Artistic Director of Bristol Old Vic
Sado Jirde - Director of BSWN

If you would like to attend the event please register here:

Bristol Old Vic is the longest continuously running theatre in the UK, and celebrated its 250th anniversary in 2016. The historic playhouse aims to inspire audiences with its own original productions, both at home and on tour, whilst nurturing the next generation of artists, whether that be through their 350-strong Young Company, their many outreach and education projects or their trailblazing artist development programme, Bristol Ferment.

They use their funding to support experiment and innovation, to allow access to their programme for people who would not otherwise encounter it, or be able to afford it, and to keep their extraordinary heritage alive and animated.

On 24 Sep 2018, Bristol Old Vic completed its 2-year multi-million pound redevelopment project, which transformed its front of house space into a warm and welcoming public building for all of Bristol to enjoy, created a new studio theatre and opened up its unique theatrical heritage to the public for the first time.

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