Women

WOMAN

By Bobby Tiwana, curator of WOMAN at GemArts Masala Festival

WAR-IASTILL FROM ‘WAR-IA’

This year’s shorts programme is inspired by the political act of being a woman. Yes, something as simple and ordinary as that is a type of activism, seen as a provocation or license to oppress in many contexts, ages, social class, across cultures and geographies. In so many parts of the world, including very close to home, girls and women have to try every day not to be coerced, exploited, abused, raped or murdered. Why is that so? And aren’t we all complicit in the silence, therefore sustaining the status quo? I don’t understand why there is such little enthusiasm today to describe yourself as a feminist. I understand it to mean that all genders are equal and should be treated equally in law, life and love.

Growing up in a household of women, a mother and two older sisters, and a father mostly at work, women’s voices, presence and their value was something inherent in my upbringing. Women have always featured strongly in my life: at school, college and university. I became an uncle to my first niece when I was just 23 years old who’s just been helping me organise my wedding. And my mother’s now a large presence in my life as she ages.

As a gay Asian man, I’ve experienced homophobia and racism, nothing extraordinary, probably ordinarily average. However, not belonging to the straight club in a patriarchal world has also enabled me to enter spaces not ordinarily available to straight men. Perhaps due to a greater shared empathy with my sisters due to our respective fights to survive.

How can a cisgender man curate a programme about women: because I’m a feminist, because I think there are stories to be told and conversations to be had.

WOMAN comprises five film shorts including narrative fiction, documentary and artists film/video/spoken word.

THE FIELDSTILL FROM ‘THE FIELD’

See the trailer for ‘THE FIELD’

We open with THE FIELD, a multi-award nominee (BAFTA/BFI London Film Festival and British Independent Film Award 2018) and Shorts Cut Award Winner (Toronto International Film Festival) by writer-director Sandhya Suri. This is a beautifully crafted short set in rural Punjab in India. We follow the life of an agricultural worker who leads a double life.

CLENCHSTILL FROM ‘CLENCH’

See the trailer for ‘CLENCH’

CLENCH by award winning film director and visual artist Riffy Ahmed tells the story of Ash, a dual heritage girl from Old Trafford who ends up on the wrong side of the law, resulting in her boxing at Salford Lads’ Club. The film echoes the fractured nature of today’s identity politics among the young and old.

QANDEEL2                                        STILL FROM ‘QANDEEL’

Commissioned by the Guardian and Bertha Foundation, Saad Khan’s documentary QANDEEL examines the life, death and impact of Pakistan’s working-class icon Qandeel Baloch, killed in 2016 after becoming a social media celebrity. This compelling film analyses her life through the lens of class and power politics and connects it to women’s continuing struggle for self-expression and agency in Pakistan.

WE ARE FIRESTILL FROM ‘WE ARE FIRE’

WE ARE FIRE is a short film about Champa Pal’s resistance with the support of ‘The Gulabi Gang’ to an entrenched cultural system in Uttar Pradesh designed to give men the upper hand. The film is directed by Oscar and Emmy award-winning director Orlando von Einsiedel.

WAR-IA 2STILL FROM ‘WAR-IA’

WAR-IA embraces her true nature to draw upon the wisdom of all the mothers who came before, and those to come, unleashing her indomitable spirit. The video is inspired by the inner thoughts of Black and Asian women. It uses their voices and experiences, from the real to the imagined.  A range of states – innocence, objectification, self-doubt, rage, playfulness and survival – are depicted in the work. Written and directed by Bobby Tiwana.

The films will be followed by a post-screen discussion with filmmakers Sandhya Suri and Riffy Ahmed facilitated by me, Bobby Tiwana.

WOMANFRI 19 JUL, 7pm, BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, South Shore Road, Gateshead NE8 3BA

Tickets £5 Buy here

Ticket includes welcome drink

Merry Christmas from GemArts

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The end of the year is always a time for reflection, and across GemArts performance and participation programme, we are reminded of all of the wonderful artists, communities, audiences, volunteers, partners and funders we have worked with in 2018.  We would like to thank every one of them for continuing to support our work in so many ways.
 
Although each and every performance and project has their highlights, we have picked a few below to show some of the work we have done this year. I hope you enjoy looking back at GemArts 2018 year, where we have supported the best and brightest artistic talent, both emerging and established artists from the UK and abroad; continued to champion creativity and diversity; and have offered unique cultural experiences, to people of all ages and backgrounds, enabling exceptional opportunities to participate in diverse music, dance, literature and visual arts.
 

Masala Festival – following last year’s Journal Culture Arts Council Award win, we were proud to be a finalist this year for the Best Event Tyneside for Masala Festival, which returned for the third time in 2018 and celebrated an outstanding selection of artists and producers from the North of England, a fantastic range of South Asian art forms from poetry, dance and film to jazz and classical music, family fun days to amazing new visual arts commissions, including a new sculpture created by robotic arm! Keep an eye out for Masala Festival 2019!

 

GemArts Riverside Ragas continues to present the very best of raag based music concerts alongside informative pre-concert talks, masterclasses and demonstrations. 2018 featured some of the finest musicians from the UK and India: Shreya Devnath, Arnab Chakrabarty with Talvin Singh, Shashank Subramanyam, ONE (ensemble of Vainikas), Purbayan Chaterjee with Gurdain Rayatt, Jasdeep Singh Degun and ended with an incredible premier of Simon Thacker’s Svara Kanti’s new album Trikala. We have an incredible line up for you in Spring Summer 2019 check out our website for our programme announcement early January.

Every year we work with thousands of people on participatory projects, making diverse arts opportunities accessible to all. In April this year, we worked alongside  Durham County Council and schools across Durham, Stockton and Hartlepool, to mark the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, delivering cultural arts activities that celebrated the 53 nations, including Steel Pans, Indian Dance, Sri Lankan, Indian and Malaysian visual arts, African Drumming and Storytelling. On the 25th April, 1000 young people processed through Durham city centre to the cathedral to take part in a special service to mark the event.

In the centenary year of the Representation of the People Act, GemArts were invited to be part of PROCESSIONS, a UK-wide mass participation artwork to mark 100 years of women’s suffrage, produced by Artichoke and commissioned by 14-18 NOW, based on an idea by Darrell Vydelingum.

Our Feel Good group created a banner that represented what the vote means to them, what it is like being a women in the UK today, highlighting their past, present and their hopes for the future. On 10th of June, the group processed through Edinburgh, proudly showcasing their banner, with thousands of other women and girls across the UK. Wearing either green, white or violet, the colours of the suffragette movement, the PROCESSIONS appeared as a flowing river of colour through the city streets.

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October saw the launch of our new film #endmatecrime for National Hate Crime week. The film was made by participants from The Gateshead Housing Company’s customer led Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Group and charity Changing Lives. Through creative arts sessions, working with our artist Tommy Anderson, participants created a series of hard hitting artwork, that have been designed into postcards, a poster and an animation film featuring real-life personal stories of victims of mate crime in Gateshead. You can watch the film here.


Our Arts, Health and Wellbeing strand continues to work with communities across Gateshead and Newcastle using creative engagement to address isolation and loneliness. This year we have worked alongside Gateshead Council to embed the Making Every Contact Count (MECC) approach, offering training to artists, staff and volunteers to support our creative practise.

Our flagship East by North East youth music project, now in it’s 5th year, engages with 177 young people on a weekly basis. Young people from diverse communities, living in challenging circumstances, take part in a wide range of musical genres. The project is committed to supporting a diverse music workforce ensuring gender equality across the programme.

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You can find out more about our work on our website www.gemarts.org

On behalf of everyone at GemArts and GVEMSG, we would like to thank you for your continued support, and wish you a very Merry Christmas, and all the best for a happy, healthy and peaceful New Year.

 

GemArts East by North East – Blog by music leader Kay Grayson (Nov 2018)

Here is a blog by Kay Grayson, who is one of our music leaders on GemArts’ Youth Music funded East by North East project. Kay’s blog gives a fascinating snap shot of her own amazing journey as a female rapper, and how she has used her skills through the project to support young women to develop their musical talent and confidence.

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As a rapper, I have been performing around the UK for nearly nine years as well as writing, mixing and mastering my own music including my underground 2016 mixtape ‘Morning After Music’. Now I am working with producer Suski to release my first EP and hopefully will continue performing across the country.

Alongside this I have been working with GemArts as a music leader. I started as a volunteer for Chat Trust: The Base, which is a project I attended from twelve years old and where I learned to use studio equipment. As a volunteer working with the girls group I found a passion for supporting young people with their creative interests and after a year I became a worker on the EBNE project.

The girls, that myself and the other music leaders have been working with, have faced many obstacles in their lives when it comes to wanting to create their own music, for example, English is not the first language for many of them which can add difficulty when it comes to writing music, and also create a lack of confidence, which is something they all struggled with at first.

Over time I have watched the girls become confident and competent musicians through their dedication and willingness to learn. They have gone from not wanting to sing in front of the microphone to learning to deliver their own raps in the studio and even showing an interest in how the studio works. Musically this has inspired me, and helping them to write and record has helped to develop my skills in both these areas. It is easy to write a rap when it is me alone, but it was altogether a new challenge to help someone else speak about their experiences in a group of four or five of their friends.

My favourite thing about the sessions is that they create a safe space for young people who live in areas where there may not be many opportunities available to them. As a female rapper I have faced barriers due to my gender and therefore know that it is invaluable to a young person’s confidence to be free to try things without fear of judgement. The openness of the sessions proves to the young people that music can be used as a tool to bring people together and promotes a positive message of diversity and acceptance.

East by North East is a Youth Music funded project led by GemArts. Building on the success of previous projects, during this third phase, we have expanded the prorgramme to provide more opportunities for professional musicians and young people living in challenging circumstances from BAMER and wider communities across Newcastle and Gateshead to work with one another, sustaining high quality music making regionally, and addressing community needs and issues.  A key element of the programme is to further diversify the music skills and workforce of music practitioners in the North East through offering CPD, training, peer to peer development and mentoring.

https://gemarts.org/projects/116/east-by-north-east

 

 

PROCESSIONS 2018

 

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This year 100 women artists are being commissioned to work with organisations and communities across the UK, to create 100 centenary banners for PROCESSIONS, as part of an extensive public programme of creative workshops. The project marks 100 years since the Representation of the People Act gave the first British women the right to vote and stand for public office.

Community banner-making has started up and down the country, and GemArts is one of the organisations chosen to work on this exciting project. GemArts is working with GVEMSG’s Women’s Feel Good Group, on participatory textiles and visual arts sessions offering the group a creative, active, educational and safe environment, to overcome barriers and build confidence, through interacting, socialising and supporting each other.

Members of the Feel Good Group fed back that they would like to continue to take part in arts sessions with GemArts artists. This project will allow the women to spend time designing and creating a banner with professional artist Michelle Wood, exploring the themes of PROCESSIONS, what the vote means to them, representing the women and their ideas, celebrating their culture and identities, as well as their concerns and hopes for the future.

The group will also travel to Edinburgh in June as part of a nationwide event, in which women from all walks of life will come together to mark this historic moment, 100 years on, of the passing of the Act that first granted some women the right to vote.

The Feel Good Group are delighted to have the opportunity to work with Michelle again, and to be a part of this exciting national project. We’ll keep you updated as the work progresses.

PROCESSIONS is commissioned by 14-18 NOW, the UK’s arts programme for the First World War centenary and produced by Artichoke. With support from the National Lottery through Arts Council England and the Heritage Lottery Fund, and from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

PROCESSIONS Cardiff is produced by Artichoke in partnership with Festival of Voice and Wales Millennium Centre.

Find out more about PROCESSIONS at www.processsions.co.uk .

Find out more about artist Michelle Wood here www.seatern.co.uk.

Find out more about the GVEMSG Feel Good Group here https://gvemsgwomensgroup.wordpress.com

My week with GemArts

Hello, my name is Hina, I am a student at Joseph Swan Academy. In July 2015 I completed a 1 week placement with GemArts as part of my work experience. While working with GemArts Director, Vikas, and the team, I got to see what goes on behind the scenes at their events and during their other project work.

During my week with GemArts they had an event at the Newcastle Beacon, to celebrate the East by North East project GemArts led which helped young people from Newcastle learn about and create their own music. I helped GemArts Administrator, Jade, make sure there was enough CD/DVDs for the guests, and prepared the room before everyone arrived, making sure that the venue had enough space for the speeches and performances to take place, as well as helping set up the catering and check the sound. We handed out leaflets which included a running order of what would happen during the event. During the event there was a video about the progress young people have made producing their own new music. GemArts also presented some young people with Arts Award certificates which show how much commitment and hard work they had put into the project. Some of the groups also performed their music, which all the guests thoroughly enjoyed. At the end we helped tidy up the venue and had a chat with artists and guests that had attended to say thank you for coming and supporting the event. This opportunity was really interesting because I got to see what goes on behind the scenes of planning events and seeing the types of projects GemArts deliver.

Another interesting part of my work experience week was when I visited GemArts visual arts projects. My first visit was to the project working with a group of young mothers from different backgrounds living in Byker. I went to see this group, who meet up weekly in the Newcastle Byker centre with GemArts’ Project Manager, Alex. The women meet weekly, and work with GemArts artist Emma, learning how to make beautiful artworks using different materials. After seeing this group of women work together it made me think about how art can bring people from different backgrounds and cultures together, where strangers can start to get along like they are old friends. To me it shows how powerful and universal art is, something which I hadn’t previously thought about.

During the rest of my time working for GemArts I learnt how different people had different roles to help maintain the work of the organisation, and how the office runs. GemArts Communications and Development Officer, Sinead, explained how the organisation looks for opportunities and works to increase their audiences and the coverage of their events and projects. Part of this work included updating the school and organisation contacts lists on a database so the team will be able to contact these people about future projects and events.

Overall I really enjoyed my time working for GemArts for my work experience, and I learnt a lot about how they and other groups operate.

Here is a photo of me on a visit to one of GemArts’ secondary school projects holding an Anti Hate Crime posters design created by year 8 pupils.

Post by Hina Khalid

School Anti Hate Crime Project visit

School Anti Hate Crime Project visit