Black History Month

Black History Month is the focus of this week’s episode. I speak to Pawlet Brookes, CEO and Chief Artistic Director of Serendipity Arts, joins me on the show to talk about one of my favorite months of the year. 

From cultural events to education talks, Black History Month is packed with events that promote and celebrate the contributions of Black African and Caribbean people to the development of British society. It also aims to help society understand Black history in detail.  

However, for some, this month brings mixed feelings, as Black History Month should extend beyond a month and be 365 days of the year.

About my guest

Pawlet Brookes is the founder, CEO and Chief Artistic Director of Serendipity Arts. Pawlet has been at the heart of the development of Black arts centres across the UK. From the Marketing Manager at the Nia Centre (Manchester) in the 90s to the Artistic Director of Peepul Centre (Leicester) and Chief Executive of Rich Mix (London). 

She has been the Arts Council assessor for a number of Black arts capital projects, such as Bernie Grant Arts Centre (London) and National Centre for Carnival Arts (Luton).

Pawlet has over 25 years’ experience as a cultural leader, a trailblazer behind several initiatives with arts and cultural organisations both in the UK and internationally. Pawlet has pioneered the establishment of an annual dance festival since 2011, Let’s Dance International Frontiers, and coordinates Black History Month events in the Midlands as part of Serendipity Arts. 

Alongside producing large-scale projects for the 2012 Cultural Olympiad such as Ballare: To Dance with classical composer Phillip Herbert, and Follow The Light, a carnival parade as part of the Olympic torch relay in the East Midlands. In her extensive career, she has worked alongside a range of international artists, directors and companies. This includes Soweto Kinch to Nina Simone, Steven Berkoff, Scottish Ballet, Geraldine O’Connor, Ballet Black, Mahogany Arts, Daksha Sheth, Phillip Herbert, Mica Paris, Akala, Gil Scott Heron, Aswad, Kyle Abraham, Germaine Acogny and PHILADANCO.

In today’s show, we talk about:

  • What Serendipity Arts is all about. [01:51]
  • Why Black History Month is for everyone. [03:42]
  • Why Pawlet decided to start Serendipity Arts UK. [05:10]
  • What keeps her going on her journey. [08:47]
  • The most important thing about Black History Month [11:35]
  • How Black people have been part of all histories. [14:20]
  • The best way to educate and make everyone understand the importance and significance of Black History Month. [15:30]
  • Her top 3 tips on how to educate your staff more through the Arts.  [24:13]

Connect with my guest:

Here are some helpful resources I mentioned in this episode:

Quotes

  • You can never learn enough.
  • Although I was working within diverse organisations, voices were still not being heard.
  • My greatest jobs have been my worst, where I have learned the most.
  • When I had my daughter, my life changed again.
  • One of the key things is that we need to change our history books and we need to change what’s happening in terms of the national curriculum and what we’re doing in schools.

What to do next?

If you want to know more and how to get involved a be a Serendipity sponsor, like Diverse Minds, you can find out more here.

Work with me

If you fancy working with me on a one-to-one basis, feel free to email me at leyla@diverseminds.co.uk or book a time so that we can chat about what might be right for you.

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Remember to tune in to next week’s episode, where I’ll bring you more insights into mental health and inclusion.