In this blog, Marketing and Communications Assistant, Daljinder, reflects on a busy 2019 since, only two months in, 2020 is equally promising. 

2019 was a whirlwind of a year at ArtReach. The office has never stopped buzzing with our core Festivals like Journeys Festival International or the external events that ArtReach helps to deliver, for instance Corby Mardi Gras and Switched on Slough

As the Marketing and Communications Assistant, I attend ArtReach’s events in order to provide social media coverage and event support. But I’m also lucky to see some exceptional and high-quality work, which, of course, makes my role significantly easier and has the extra benefit of informing my part-time freelance work across journalism, production and marketing. 

For instance, I am Marketing Manager for a poetry and music night for black and brown womxn called Heaux Noire that has appeared at venues including the Southbank Centre, Roundhouse London and MAC Birmingham. For music, Night of Festivals Hounslow had some terrific performances from the melodious rhythms of Mythm to the wonderful lyricism of Amrit Kaur. 

This balance of working on ArtReach’s large-scale and public-facing events alongside smaller, community-focused has been wonderful. I’ve had ideas sparked from attending ArtReach events to implement in my freelance work and vice-versa. Both ways of working have also given me the chance to work with artists from marginalised communities and help them showcase their exceptional talents.

For example, opportunities in both Manchester and Portsmouth for poetry have been excellent this year, especially thanks to some really talented professionals like writer and performer, Mandla Rae. Indeed, Mandla is rejoining the ArtReach team as Journey Festival International Community Film Programmer. After the success of 2019’s JFI Film Programme, even going on to present at the Independent Cinema Office’s I.D. Screening Days, I look forward to seeing more fantastic film this year with their input!

My role has additionally given me a new insight into the work of others to platform the stories of refugees and asylum seekers. Over 2019, the team enjoyed invites to some truly memorable events including Aakash Odedra’s performance of #JeSuis at the Peepul Centre in May. This was particularly inspirational when considering how the dance piece originates from Journeys Festival International Leicester in 2017 and now has gone on to entrance audiences nationally and globally. 

Still, small-scale work such as Women of Freedom Square from Sheba Arts has been equally impressive. Spanning the length of my time working with ArtReach from Journeys Festival International Manchester in 2018, a group of female performers have worked hard to develop initial ideas from a performance lab at HOME Manchester. Now, they’re determined to showcase Iranian women’s fight for freedom with a performance at the end of January and I was definitely applauding their efforts. 

During my short time at ArtReach, I’m grateful that I’ve been able to see so much work from women and specifically women from migrant backgrounds. Recently, Not Now Collective’s Pepper and Honey was a moving exploration of memory and the connection between generations of women at our fellow NPO and frequent venue partner, Attenborough Arts Centre. 

I’m looking forward to returning to the venue with In Good Company to help produce Check In Festival 2020 this April with the importance of programming theatre that spotlights women’s stories in mind. Plus, I’m also working to produce Midlands artist, Erinn Dhesi’s show at VAULT Festival 2020. 

From Erinn Dhesi’s clever and funny show Wigs Snatched, Perceptions Destroyed to the work of Not Now Collective and Sheba Arts, there’s an incredible range of women’s stories out there that still are only beginning to be given the attention they deserve. But, thanks to the range of my work, it looks like 2020 is going to be filled with lots more of it.