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Africa in London - Online Forum

20 July 2020

Africa in London - Online Forum

Creative Engagement

Africa in London champions and showcases the brilliance and breadth of African creativity and culture in London. In 2019 the programme funded 6 cultural projects, supported 7 mentees and amplified over 60 events taking place in the capital. Why? As a community engagement team we recognise the power of creativity to tell important stories. These events, films, exhibitions, writings and more, help us better understand the aspirations and concerns of Londoners of African heritage.

Africa in London is profiling creatives and making spaces for longer term dialogue. On July 10th the second forum ran as ‘a place to link up and share ideas on key themes London's African creatives want to explore’. Like the rest of the world, we moved from a live to a digital space for this event and learned more about how to engage within new paramaters. The theme was ‘Survive and Thrive’.

The Forum

We worked with the British Council to host the forum as a facebook live streamed event.  The programme included speakers, a storyteller, a musician and breakout discussions.  Don’t miss @MaimounaJallow at 30:00:00 and @Makadem at 1:31:00. Whilst we missed the collective moments we are used to of audience, applause and informal networking – we were able to bring in international contributors and present a fuller programme in a tighter time. Live views peaked at 120 comparable with a live event yet over 3K views across the first week. We planned for smaller discussions to ensure as many voices could be heard, using an interactive tool ‘jamboard’ to capture insights.  The technology was a new step for organisers and audiences and one to test again. 


Choreographer, Movement Director, Researcher and Cultural Producer, Sara Dos Santos, who was one of the discussion room moderators and took part in the 2019 Africa in London pilot mentoring scheme shared the following insights: 

"Taking part in this year's Africa in London - Online Forum, provided an opportunity to not only champion, guide and support an ongoing conversation around the integration and accessibility of the Pan-African Diaspora in London. But also enabled me to put in practice my most recent findings within Cultural Policy, International Relations and Artistic Social Reform. 

The ‘Yellow Room’ included a group of articulate passionate and forward-thinking professionals from across the cultural and creative sector. Our loosely guided conversation landed upon three key elements which incorporated:

  • The importance of the education of the Diaspora, its lineage and legacy within schools.
  • The benefits and personal rewards of arts as therapy during a global pandemic.
  • Lastly, the continued need to join forces across artistic and cultural networks to build further momentum and traction to enhance the visibility of the Diaspora and all its excellence. 

Despite being pressed for time to deepen our dialogue, the breakout session provided an opportunity to hold space, listen and have our voices heard within a safe and open-minded environment." 

T. saradsantos_

What are we doing with this?

We’re currently synthesising the discussion themes with the Africa in London advisory group. This group supports the direction of the programme and is made up of cultural and heritage organisations and independent creatives. It includes the Africa Centre, Black Cultural Archives and Royal African Society.  

Due to Covid 19, the original Africa in London programme activity has had to be re-thought. These themes will help to inform the next step and be valuable in supporting recovery work that links creatives to education, health and more.

There was so much to take from the talks – here are a few highlights:

‘We are an act of remembrance and an act of creativity’.- Arike Oke, Managing Director, Black Cultural Archives

‘This is a really important time to listen, to understand the needs, aspirations, fears and concerns of our community’. Kenneth Tharp, Director, The Africa Centre

The forum’s Host broadcaster and DJ, Henrie Kwushue tells us what Africa in London means to her #myafricainlondonis

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