Transforming Narratives has supported and connected over 500 artists and creative practitioners from Birmingham, Pakistan, and Bangladesh over the course of the past four years. It has commissioned new art, forged new connections, fostered professional development, and supported cultural organisations.
Established in 2018, Transforming Narratives was managed by Culture Central, and supported by Arts Council England and the British Council. It was delivered in association with The British Council and 10 Birmingham-based partners— Birmingham Contemporary Music Group (BCMG), Birmingham Museums Trust (BMT), Birmingham Repertory Theatre, Ikon Gallery, Kalaboration Arts, Legacy West Midlands, Midlands Arts Centre, South Asian Diaspora Arts Archive (SADAA), Sampad, and Sonia Sabri Company. In addition, transforming Narratives have created a new digital Timeline feature, which tells the story of Transforming Narratives, whilst a new short film, produced by Amrit Singh, features the work and voices of artists who the programme has supported.
Sophina Jagot, Project Director, Transforming Narratives, said, "It's been a real moment of reflection, putting together the short film and timeline of Transforming Narratives, we have been able to really think about the ways in which Transforming Narratives has supported new work, challenged the norm and created genuine cultural exchanges across Birmingham, Bangladesh, and Pakistan. So much has been achieved through the programme, and I hope people take a look at the Transforming Narratives website to get a sense of the work that has happened over the last four years and the connections that have been made, we hope the legacy of this engagement, support, and delivery is more creative and cultural connections across the three locations in the years to come."
Transforming Narratives commissioned new art and forged new connections bringing artists, curators, and organisations together to promote new ways of thinking and working. Artists were supported to develop new work in an artist-led, trust-based approach. Research and development visits brought artists to Birmingham, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. In Birmingham, a series of community facilitator research reports were commissioned to understand the context of Pakistani, Bangladeshi, and Kashmiri people living or working in Birmingham. This helped develop the team's understanding of contemporary culture, people's engagement with the city, and experience of the city's cultural life.
When Covid hit, a new programme of Digital Collaborative Grants led to 17 new artistic commissions, linking the three spaces, and a series of critical dialogue events encouraged debate. The Transforming Narratives Mela and Symposium brought together artists and audiences in Birmingham, Pakistan, and Bangladesh for a ground-breaking three-day online festival, with 14 new commissioned projects. Samira Syed, Producer, Angon, said, "When you bring people together and let them speak and create, bonds beyond politics and borders can get forged. I think these are key for our education and our future." Mukhtar Dar, Kalaboration Arts, adds, "Transforming Narratives opened doors which had previously been closed."
To watch, listen to the words of the artists involved, and to find out more about the four-year programme, visit www.transformingnarratives.com or follow Transforming Narratives on social media.