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Race and the Cultural Industries Conference

Wednesday 14 September 2011
Institute of Communications Studies, University of Leeds

A one-day conference organised by the Media Industries Research Centre (MIRC), University of Leeds, in conjunction with the MeCCSA Race Network and the ECREA Media Industries and Cultural Production Temporary Working Group

Race and the Cultural Industries explores issues of ‘race’, the media and cultural production. Following Greg Dyke’s famous comment that the BBC is ‘hideously white’ there has been an increasing recognition of how non-whites are marginalised in the cultural industries – both in terms of participation and portrayal. Indeed, in recent years there have been numerous initiatives launched across the cultural sector that have made efforts to increase and encourage participation from minority communities. Yet tensions remain regarding social and cultural barriers to entry as well as critical issues to do with the representation of non-white groups.  The aim of the conference is to go beyond policy debates and think more critically about the cultural industries, and the post-colonial formations and cultural politics of ‘race’ in the West.

Race and the Cultural Industries is an interdisciplinary conference and will cover all sectors of the media, from news to entertainment, taken from the UK or more international contexts. It seeks to encourage participation from cultural practitioners as well as scholars in order to create a dialogue between research, policy and practice.

Keynote Speakers

Tanika Gupta, MBE – Playwright and screenwriter

Tanika Gupta was born in 1963 in Chiswick. She read moden history at Oxford University, then worked for an Asian Women’s Refuge in Manchester and as a community worker in London while beginning to write.

She has written for television, including for East EndersGrange Hill, A Suitable BoyThe BillCrossroads, and adaptations and original radio plays for BBC Radio. She also wrote for the Asian network soap, Silver Street, and the BBC World Service soap,Westway.

Her work for theatre includes many stage plays, including Meet The Mukherjees (2008), performed at Bolton Octagon theatre. Her first stage play was Voices on the Wind, which was workshopped at the National Theatre Studio in 1995. It tells the story of her 19-year-old great uncle, Dinesh Gupta, who was an Indian freedom fighter and was hanged by the British as a terrorist in 1930.

Other plays include: Skeleton (1997) at Soho Theatre; an adaptation of Geeta Mehta’s A River Sutra (Indoza 1997); The Waiting Room (2000) at the National Theatre; a translation of Brecht’s The Good Woman of Setzuan(National Theatre Education 2001); Sanctuary (2002) at the National Theatre; and Inside Out (2002). Her adaptation of Hobson’s Choice (2003) played at the Young Vic; Fragile Land (2003) at Hampstead; and Gladiator Games (2005) at Sheffield Crucible and Stratford East theatres. A group play, Catch (2006), was performed at the Royal Court Theatre, and White Boy (2008) at the National Youth Theatre/Soho.

Her most recent plays include 2 Young 2 LUVAnanda Sanada and Brood in 2010. In 2011, she adapted Great Expectations for the stage, setting it in 1860s Calcutta.

Tanika Gupta was awarded an MBE in 2008.

Mykaell Riley – Songwriter, producer, music consultant and educator

Mykaell’s career started as a founder member of Grammy award-winning British reggae band Steel Pulse. Over the years he has performed, produced, managed and consulted on many successful artists and their projects. As a professional writer/producer, Mykaell’s work has encompassed television, film and theatre, but mainly albums, over twenty of them – resulting in over eleven UK top twenty positions, and three UK number ones. He is also created The Reggae Philharmonic Orchestra, Britain’s first black orchestra, – which toured, Europe, Japan, Hong Kong, Jamaica. For this project he wrote and produced three albums plus the co-production of a 50min TV documentary. He has also composed for ITV1, 2,3, the BBC 1,2, SKY and Endemol TV.

Mykaell is also Senior Lecturer and Head of Music Production at University of Westminster, where he has set up The Center for Black Music Research (UK). He has worked as an educational consultant and music industry advisor for the Mayor of London, Arts Council England, The British Museum, The Maritime Museum, The V&A, Open University, City University, South Thames College, and is currently external examiner for Leeds College of music/Bradford University.

Amongst his many projects Mykaell is founder of (BMET) Black Music Education and Technology, which focuses on developing music /educational content for the BME community whilst creating new links between higher education and the music industry. In 2004 he produced ‘Dub Sweat And Tears’ a major photographic and multimedia exhibition, featuring 200 images reflecting the last 50 years of black music and culture in the Britain. In 2006 ‘BBMX’ was the first H.E. interactive educational DVD exploring black music in Britain. In 2007 Mykaell produced ‘The UK Value of Jazz Report’, the first national mapping of UK Jazz.


9:20 Registration

9:50 Welcome and introduction
Anamik Saha and David Hesmondhalgh (University of Leeds)

10 – 10:45 Keynote:
Tanika Gupta, MBE (playwright and screenwriter) – ‘A writer’s journey through racial politics in the cultural industries’

11:00 – 12:40 Panel 1 – ‘Race’ and creative work
Chair – Bethany Klein (University of Leeds)
Eithne Quinn (University of Manchester) – ‘A piece of the action: The racial struggle for jobs and resources in post-civil rights Hollywood’
Mark Percival (Queen Margaret University) – ‘Performing race, gender and identity in Scotland: black and mixed race musicians and actors in Glasgow’
Annelies Thoelen & Patrizia Zanoni (Hasselt University) – ‘Crafting success by “fitting in” and “standing out”: Ethnic minority entrepreneurs’ construction of legitimacy in the creative industries’
Mark Banks and Jason Toynbee (Open University) – ‘British jazz and the black creative city’

12:40 – 13:40 Lunch

13:40 – 15:20 Panel 2 – The politics of ‘race’ in cultural production
Chair – Helen Thornham (University of Leeds)
Sarita Malik (Brunel University) – ‘Diversity, broadcasting and the politics of representation’
Lee Edwards (Manchester Business School) – ‘Understanding intersections of privilege and disadvantage in the cultural industries: Managing ‘race’ in public relations’
Keir Keightley (University of Western Ontario) – ‘Racing around the world, listening to yourself: centre, periphery, and the global audio spectacular’
Sanjay Sharma (Brunel University) and Ash Sharma (University of East London) – ‘Producing ‘independent’ knowledge: the racial economy of darkmatter journal’

15:40 -1700 Panel 3 – Representational politics
Chair – Daniela Berghahn (Royal Holloway)
Chris Paterson (University of Leeds) – ‘Global television and the representation of Africans’
Rinella Cere (Sheffield Hallum University) – ‘The media representation of Muslim women radicalised by a post 9/11 society’
Julie Firmstone (University of Leeds) – ‘The dangerous ‘other’: constructions of Muslims in the British press’

17:15: 18:00 End keynote:
Mykaell Riley (University of Westminster) – ‘Dub to dubstep: Assimilation or selected memory loss’