Ten new artistic projects commissioned through the Transforming Narratives programme

10 new artistic projects have been commissioned through the first Open Call as part of the Transforming Narratives programme. These projects will take place throughout 2020 in Birmingham, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

Transforming Narratives is a ground-breaking three-year project that will establish Birmingham as a leading international centre for contemporary Pakistan and Bangladeshi arts. Managed by Culture Central, it is supported by Arts Council England and delivered in association with The British Council.

Sophina Jagot, Transforming Narratives Project Manager said: “We are delighted to be supporting a range of organisations, many of whom we’ve not worked with before, who have responded to our Open Call as well as to continue support for Birmingham-based organisations who have already engaged in the Transforming Narratives programme. We hope that these collaborations and exchanges will mean we start to see the step-change in artistic practice that we are aiming for through Transforming Narratives.”

The aim of the Collaborative Projects is to support artists and organisations in showcasing contemporary artistic work as well as building long-lasting cross-country relationships. The commissioned Projects include:

  • Curator Dipa Mahbuba Yasmin of Epiphania Visuals will commission six visual artists from Bangladesh for a major exhibition at Midlands Arts Centre (MAC) addressing different views of issues related to identity and gender politics.
  • Sampad Arts will invite women in Pakistan and Bangladesh to develop their writing skills through an online literature project titled My City My Home: Connecting Cities.
  • Nowka Bais CIC will bring together music artists from Bangladesh and Birmingham to work on a project titled Shohojogita to develop new folk songs that will be performed at the Nowka Bais event in Birmingham in the summer.

Johur Uddin of Nowka Bais CIC said: “We are delighted to have been commissioned by Transforming Narratives to develop this project which will make a huge difference to emerging Bangladeshi artists from Birmingham allowing them to showcase their talents as well as strengthening cultural ties between Birmingham and Bangladesh by more collaborative work to be undertaken in the future.

“Nowka Bais is the traditional form of dragon boat style racing in rural villages of Bangladesh held after the monsoon rains and reflects many of the customs of the country. With riverine Bangladesh’s geography being dominated by the world’s largest delta, the country has over 230 rivers in its terrain. The rivers have played an important role in the livelihoods of the native Bengali people. Bangladesh has a rich tradition of folk songs, with lyrics rooted in vibrant tradition and culture of which the waterways play a major part in the lives of Bangladeshi’s.”

The Exchanges will support work that brokers new partnerships or develops existing ones through international residences, exchanges and critical dialogue in Birmingham, Pakistan or Bangladesh. Commissioned Exchanges include:

  • Artist Rinkoo Barpaga of Deaf Explorer CIC aims to transform deaf stories through theatre working with Deaf theatre makers and young people in Pakistan and Birmingham.
  • Artist Faisal Hussain will develop new works inspired by Pakistan’s urban environments for audiences in both Pakistan and Birmingham.
  • Artist Hira Butt will explore the cultural significance of golden bangles for women of South-Asian ethnicity working with, and taking inspiration from, women from Pakistan and Birmingham.
  • Mukhtar Dar, Artistic Director, Kolaboration will build on R&D commissioned through Transforming Narratives in 2018/19 developing and sharing creative contacts in the UK and Pakistan developed through their theatre production, Sigh of the Musafir.
  • Deborah Kermode, CEO & Artistic Director of Midlands Arts Centre (MAC) will participate in the Dhaka Art Summit in Bangladesh, building on MAC’s experience of collaborating with artists internationally, with a view to extending international dialogue with artists and audiences. MAC will explore possibilities for showcasing work by emerging Bangladeshi artists at MAC as part of Future Arts programming.
  • Rebecca Bridgman, Curatorial & Exhibitions Manager of Birmingham Museums Trust, will connect with multiple partners in Pakistan and Bangladesh to strengthen and develop partnerships, share working experience and explore future acquisitions for Birmingham’s collection.
  • The K’antu Ensemble will develop a contemporary music performance using the musical language and performance styles of Birmingham and Bangladesh for young special educational needs audiences working with musicians and the CHILD Foundation.

Artist Faisal Hussain commented: “Being able to be in Karachi and Lahore as an artist is an invaluable opportunity and I know is going to be a pivotal part of my work’s development. The exposure to other arts professionals in Pakistan will help me to place myself and my practice in context, this trip will also add a much-needed perspective to work currently being made in Birmingham.

“Transforming Narratives offers a great opportunity for under-represented artists. It addresses a need to nurture new and existing practitioners in a city whose varied population needs and demands representation.”

Peter Knott, Area Director, Arts Council England said: “We want more people to experience culture in more places, so I’m pleased to have invested £660,000 of National Lottery funding in Transforming Narratives, which promises to see artists exchange ideas and work from Birmingham to Bangladesh and Pakistan.

 “We know there are strong links between diversity and creativity, so it’s exciting to see a Birmingham based-project working at an international level, which will celebrate and explore history and tradition which everyone can enjoy.”

A second Open Call will open in February, look out for details via the website.

Find out more about Transforming Narratives online at www.transformingnarratives.com or follow on social media: Twitter – @T_Narratives; Instagram – @transformingnarratives; Facebook – TransformingNarratives.