Creative community outreach projects empower local communities by providing a voice for them that is expressed through the arts. At the same time, projects provide opportunities for participants to learn new artistic techniques and vocational skills. Participants can be inspired to explore their cultural heritage and community. These project encourage people to reflect on the legacies that influence their lives, and to embrace ways to improve their livelihood and well-being.
Announcement on Women of Colour Anthology: Boundaries & Borders from Women of Colour [WOC] Writers Worldwide: “The WOC Community Editor Reviewers have sent out letters of provisionally accepted work. If you received a request to edit your work, please return it by the deadline. There may be additional acceptances once all of the the first round work is reviewed. It breaks our heart not to be able to accept every submission for the Anthology but we are considering starting an online publication. All editors are volunteering their time. Thanks for your patience.”
WOC Anthology enquiries >>
Cultural Remix: Sharing the Sacred was a public art commission project that explored the diverse culture of the local area. The project was part of the Integrated Public Art Program 2011-2012 held in Noosa, Queensland, Australia. The work was screened nightly for three months in an open air plaza. Laterally Creative focused on the community’s nostalgic attachment to stories and objects that were sourced from local history archives, personal collections and oral history. Cultural Remix is a dynamic mosaic filmic response to these collections and memories.
Something we are struggling with in the UK arts industry, is the management of natural afro hair when we work on screen, and on stage. We are struggling in terms of how we are perceived. If we wear our hair natural, it is seen as too bold or not ‘professional’ when worn in certain styles. Then there is the issue of the painful inability of hair professionals to deal with our natural hair when we’re in hair and make-up on set.
This became a shared dialogue for me through being on set with two women of colour when were cast in a short film last year. We were strangers drawn together, and united by our hair stories. Between the three of us, we were wearing weave, braids and a home-made wig. We each had different parts in the film. Was our hair affecting the roles we got? On top of that, were we, as women of colour having a different working experience to our counter-parts with European hair and if so, what was that experience?
From here, my project “Afro Archives A Performers World” was born. I began to gather evidence. I interviewed friends in the arts from different cultures, ages and genders. Asking them questions and letting them speak freely about their hair experiences working in the creative industry of a white majority society. “Afro Archives A Performers World” has become a 12-episode series of chats about hair. Each episode is split into three parts (so they’re not too long). On the last day of every month, a different topic. For example in October, Black History Month, the topic is “Why Go Natural?” in November “Would You Shave Off All Your Hair For A Film?,” It’s freestyle, topic based chats.
Actors; Ayesha Casely-Hayford, Alice Fotana, Veronica Rose & Ketorah Williams, : photographs courtesy of Ayesha Casely-Hayford
Afro Archives is a project of collaboration and inclusivity. I called it “Afro Archives” because I wanted to create something where “afro” means something to everyone, beyond cultural background so that we embrace what we are not as part of what we are. This is why “Afro Archives” includes actors with all different hair-textures and from all different cultural backgrounds. We compare and contrast hair, and really identify with the afro-hair experience. I set my chats in “a performer’s world” because in the visual arts how we look, matters. It’s the perfect setting to chat hair.
Supported in-kind by host venue, the Black Cultural Archives in Brixton London, and an online not-for-profit platform called Africa Fashion. Generosity of friends and colleagues with their time and energy, original music composed by an up-coming composer, Livvy Baker-Mendoza and aspiring photographer of Ghanian descent, Robbie Spotswood. Without this collaborative supporting to bring these hair stories to life, Afro Archives couldn’t have happened. I’m beyond grateful, thankful, and never in more confidence that community and collaboration are the spring boards for creativity taking us from ideas in our heads to production of shared experiences that represent our lives, helping us recognise ourselves.
Actor; India Amarteifio: photograph courtesy of Ayesha Casely-Hayford
When it comes to our hair, we are born with it, and there is absolutely nothing we can do to change our natural hair texture. This is why the hair business is so massive. Forever manipulating hair to achieve a desired look. One way or another - curly, bald, straight - hair is a never-ending saga. It’s also why anything that curbs freedom of choice or identity in respect of hair, arguably becomes a cultural issue. I’m still keeping an open mind and continuing to explore, but clear voices can be heard on Afro Archives evidencing that discrimination exists against women of colour especially, when it comes to our hair as we try to pave our way working in the arts. You can catch the latest episodes on YouTube and follow the Africa Fashion blog too. I’d love to hear other people’s comments and experiences - What is the global experience? #AfroArchives - amazing hair, talks!
writing workshops: Photograph courtesy of Imani House
writers’ workshop in progress: Photograph courtesy of Imani House
Women of Colour Writers Workshop and Community is a Writers' collective located at Imani House in Brooklyn, New York, U.S.A. For Bisi Ideraabdullah, founder and Executive Director of Imani House, the goals of WOC Writers Worldwide, "is to bring the literary voices of Women of Colour to audiences hungry to know who these important world citizens are.” The organisation’s aim “is to present new, under-represented and captivating literary works of the world.”
WOC Writers Worldwide runs creative writing workshops for women. Ideraabdullah says the workshops encourage “writers to write, and experiment with figurative language, imagery, character development, the use of dialogue, setting, cliche’ and more. WOC Writers Worldwide use poetry, fiction, nonfiction and other [styles] to tell our stories; to celebrate" identity. Ideraabdullah said some participants have been “published, entered prestigious writing colonies, used the workshop to overcome writer’s block, hone their skills, complete chapters of their novels, [and] enter MFA programs." WOC, Writers Worldwide also provides reading workshops for feedback on manuscripts.
WOC Writers Workshops >>
Bisi Ideraabdulla is the founder and Executive Director of Imani House a Brooklyn-based non-profit organisation. Imani house provides after-school programs, adult education, employment assistance in Brooklyn, New York. In addition, the organisation funds a health care clinic and adult literacy programs in Liberia, West Africa. As a result, Imani House assists over 19,000 marginalized community members each year in New York and Liberia. An educator, writer, activist, wife and mother of five, in 1999 Ideraabdullah founded the Women of Colour Writers Workshop in response to the under-representation of women of colour in the literary world.
Bisi Ideraabdullah WOC writers. Photograph courtesy of Imani House
Imani House >>
Laterally Creative is excited to be planning new projects. These include:
Interested in collaborating with Laterally Creative?