Image – line up from left to right:
Line one: Sophie Amono, Barry Church-Woods, Professor Doris Ruth Eikhof, Michael Fellowes
Line two: Lewis Hou, Ashe Hussain, Cate Ross, Fadzai Mwakutuya
Line three: Jim Muotune, Kerieva McCormick, Kirin Saeed and Miss Annabel Sings
Following an open recruitment process, an independent group of twelve individuals has been appointed to Creative Scotland’s Equalities, Diversity & Inclusion (EDI) Advisory Group for a period of two years until January 2023.
Sophie Amono, Barry Church-Woods, Professor Doris Ruth Eikhof, Michael Fellowes, Lewis Hou, Ashe Hussain, Cate Ross, Kerieva McCormick, Jim Muotune, Fadzai Mwakutuya, Kirin Saeed and Miss Annabel Sings will all play a key role in helping guide Creative Scotland’s EDI work. The group is made up of a diverse range of individuals, with expertise of the various aspects of Equalities, Diversity and Inclusion. Each member of the group has a clear commitment to the development of arts and culture in Scotland and the pivotal role of EDI in enabling a thriving and vibrant sector, reflective of all Scotland’s communities.
EDI is a key priority for Creative Scotland. In addition to legislative responsibilities in tackling inequalities and eliminating discrimination, the prioritisation of EDI is crucial to the quality and richness of creative activity and ensuring that as many people as possible can access and participate in arts and culture across Scotland. The group will meet every three months (four times per year) and meetings will be facilitated by Creative Scotland’s Head of EDI, Milica Milosevic.
On the appointments Milica Milosevic, commented: “Establishing this EDI Advisory Group is a further step in ensuring different voices are better reflected across the cultural life of Scotland. The Group will be an invaluable source of advice for Creative Scotland enabling us to gain increased insights into key issues. I’m delighted to be able to facilitate the work of the group which includes such strong expertise and experience across a range of practice and policy areas. Together we will work to address the lack of diversity, challenge poor practices, and positively support career progression.”
Professor Doris Ruth Eikhof of University of Glasgow said: “To improve diversity, we need a balance between empowering people to participate and making our arts, culture and creative industries more inclusive. Scotland’s policy context, its Culture Strategy and National Performance Framework give the Creative Scotland EDI Advisory Group a unique chance to pursue these EDI goals and to link them into sustainability, wellbeing, and opportunity more broadly. It is an exciting prospect I very much look forward to working on.”
Equalities, Diversity & Inclusion Advisory Group – biographies and quotes
1. Sophie Amono is the founder of Edinburgh based social media agency Stuffs; a black owned, woman led creative studio that produces social media campaigns for brands across the UK and Europe. Over the last ten years her career has seen her work with some of biggest brands in contemporary communications including Dazed Digital, Bulletproof, The Times, & NOT JUST A LABEL. With recent partnerships and speaking spots with Ladies, Wine & Design in Scotland, Hidden Women in Design and the European Packaging Design Awards, Sophie is also on the BIMA Inclusion & Diversity Council with the vision to help drive impactful change for creatives across the UK, with a keen focus on women and ethnic minorities within the media, digital and technology industry.
2. Barry Church-Woods is an actor, director, producer, writer, and activist based in Edinburgh. He is the co-founder of international production house Civil Disobedience. Their remit is to amplify the voices or marginalised communities with a focus on LGBTQI+ artists, though their work is often intersectional. Before setting up Civil Disobedience he worked across several local authorities, government and third sector projects with a focus on cultural provision for underserved communities.
On the appointment Barry Church-Woods commented: “Tackling inequality and eliminating discrimination has been central to all of my work since the mid-90s. I’m delighted to be selected to support Creative Scotland in ensuring that their Equalities, Diversity, and Inclusion priorities continue to serve Scotland’s beautifully diverse communities and guarantee that anyone who wants to have access to arts and cultural activity across the country can.”
3. Professor Doris Ruth Eikhof is an internationally recognised expert on diversity and inclusion in cultural work. Her work, including with the British Film Institute, BAFTA and the Creative Diversity Network, looks to remove structural barriers to inclusion. Professor Eikhof is a member of the National Partnership for Culture’s Measuring Change group and from 2016-2020 was Deputy Director of the CAMEo Research Institute at the University of Leicester.
4. Michael Fellowes is deafened, of Indian descent, and has worked as an arts project manager in disability and D/deaf arts in Liverpool, London and Manchester. He has a lifelong concern for, the developing identity and the right to education in British Sign Language, for D/deaf children. His Equality and Diversity Training Consultancy – sunsurfer.co.uk – trains throughout the UK. He trains Mental Health First Aid for Scotland and England, working closely with Mates in Mind. He is an Edinburgh Sci-fi/fantasy writer, currently finishing Scarlet and the White – a young adult novel with deaf and BAME characters.
On the appointment Michael Fellowes commented: “I am delighted to be appointed to Creative Scotland’s Equalities, Diversity and Inclusion advisory group. My work over decades has focussed on equality and inclusion in the arts for excluded people. I want to see participation and enjoyment of creativity for everyone, particularly for the one in four of us who experience poor mental health.”
5. Lewis Hou directs the Science Ceilidh linking communities, education, research, and culture across Scotland, and supports programmes including the Culture and Wellbeing Community Network Scotland and the community mental wellbeing Ideas Fund. Lewis has been involved in an action research programme on Cultural Democracy with the Fun Palaces campaign as one of the Scottish Ambassadors with Voluntary Arts Scotland and Scottish Libraries and Information Council. He is also an organising member of the Anti-Racist Educator collective and a UK Creative Community Fellow.
On the appointment Lewis Hou commented: “I am looking forward to joining the Creative Scotland EDI advisory group as one of many critical friends to explore what processes must happen next to support the sector-wide systemic changes needed to widen whose creativity and culture is heard and counted. Arts and culture can gatekeep as much as connect, disempower as much as heal, and now more than ever, we must open the conversation on inclusive funding practices, equitable community partnerships and whose voices are valued to ensure we build back better a creative Scotland for everyone.”
6. Ashe Hussain’s background is in film and television. Throughout her career Ashe has worked in partnership with many broadcasters, funding organisations and public sector bodies in the UK and has a good network of industry contacts in the UK and internationally. In addition to addressing EDI issues in the sector through training initiatives she has also participated in discussion panels and advisory groups focusing on increasing on- and off-screen diverse talent and diverse content for the industry. Her main areas of expertise are in business development for production companies, diversity, talent development and training. She currently works at Film City Futures for the FOCUS project and has her own training company FortyLoveMedia Ltd. Ashe started her media career at BBC Scotland at the Topical Programmes Unit and has subsequently worked for a range of companies including Scottish Screen (now Creative Scotland) and The Research Centre (now TRC Media) where she delivered diversity training programmes for Channel 4. She moved in London to continue managing the C4 disability and diversity programmes while based at Top TV Academy as well as managing numerous Skillset-funded training courses. Ashe followed this up with a short stint at ITV before returning to Glasgow to deliver training programmes for the Scottish screen sector.
On the appointment Ashe Hussain commented: “As a passionate supporter of equality, diversity and inclusion in our screen sector, I am delighted to support Creative Scotland and my Advisory Group colleagues to help develop Creative Scotland’s delivery against its current and future Equalities Outcomes.”
7. Cate Ross is a multi-discipline artist; she is a master printmaker, art education and creative action research specialist, physical theatre and dance trapeze professional, costume maker and community arts catalyser since 1995. Her portfolio includes a range of physical performances, applied creative practices in the community, 3D installations, public art and 2D visual art forms. Cate’s studio work addresses and seeks solutions to local and global geo-political challenges as well as to celebrate human and natural phenomena.
On the appointment Cate Ross commented: “Given the intrinsic power of creativity to shape culture, there is no better place to focus our energy at this critical time. As an artist and creative community worker I want to ‘be the change I wish to see in the world’ in all I do and I’m very excited that Creative Scotland has made this opportunity possible, I believe the EDI Advisory Group work will yield many positive outcomes for all.”
8. Based in the rural Scottish Highlands, Fadzai Mwakutuya is a professional visual artist originally from Zimbabwe. She has been practicing for 30 years whilst living and working in the UK and Africa and brings these connections into her current projects to develop tangible cultural networks. Scotland’s history and heritage contributes to her sense of identity along with being part of arts organisations and collectives Yon Afro and Rotu. She is an active Exec member of the Scottish Artists Union helping to establish and steer their new Intersectional subgroup in 2020.
On the appointment Fadzai Mwakutuya commented: “I’m really pleased to be part of Creative Scotland’s new EDI Advisory Group panel and hope to bring my experiences and understanding of complex intersectional barriers to this role. It’s so important to address structural inequality within the arts sector. I’m passionate about creating a fairer workplace for all artists and creative organisations.”
9. Jim Muotune has wide experience of the Scottish music and broadcasting industries. His skill set runs from legal and business affairs to radio, music, and short film production. In the last year of a law degree he founded Soma Records with five friends, co-writing Slam’s landmark tune ‘Positive Education’ and being part of the team that discovered Daft Punk. His most rewarding projects are rooted in his passion for Diversity and Inclusion and include facilitating music workshops with members of Glasgow’s asylum community, presenting a BBC documentary about Glasgow’s links to the slave trade and a short film project based on African proverbs for BBC Sport Scotland – #8Proverbs.
On the appointment Jim Muotune commented: “I am interested in actions and not words. I’m solutions focussed and committed to raising the real-life challenges, questions and concerns of Scotland’s Diverse artistic communities and translating them into tangible actions towards change.”
10. Kerieva McCormick is the Artistic Director of KAM-RI Dance Theatre, founding the company in 2014. KAM-RI Dance Theatre exists to forge world-class dynamic international creative partnerships, making dance theatre work of outstanding quality available to Scottish audiences. Kerieva has led a continually interwoven artistic career and has a solid, transnational reputation in the field of EDI- In particular in thematic areas involving BAME/ Migrant/ Roma/ Indigenous communities, legal advocacy, strategy, scholarship, and policy making. Kerieva has previously been a consultant/thematic expert for organisations and NGOs at all tiers, including United Nations NY, Council of Europe, ERRC Budapest, research posts/consultancies at Karl-Franzens-Universitat Austria, Open Society Foundation NY, AWID (Association of Women In Development), Gender IT India, Breakthrough NY and 18+ years active experience in transnational organising, consulting and network building in these areas. She is currently a member of the Advisory Group for Dance Base-National Centre for Dance, Edinburgh, and an Honorary Research Fellow in Arts and Cultural Leadership at Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh.
On the appointment Kerieva McCormick commented: “I am delighted to take up this opportunity to serve on the Equalities, Diversity & Inclusion Advisory Group of Creative Scotland, and look forward to contributing to the mainstreaming of EDI throughout the creative sector.”
11. Kirin Saeed is currently working as a trainer and access consultant. In 1999 she obtained an MA in Human Resources at Northumbria University. She is also a professional actor trained through Graeae Theatre Company and London Metropolitan University through their Missing piece program in 2003. She has toured with Extant, Britain’s leading professional arts company for visually impaired people both in the UK and Europe. Kirin is an avid user of audio description in theatres, cinemas and hopes that one day access provision will be the norm for all blind and partially sighted people.
On the appointment Kirin Saeed commented: “I am delighted to be appointed a member of the EDI Advisory Group. I am excited to help shape the foundations of an equitable future to access the arts in Scotland for all”.
12. DIY Theatre Maker, Activist, and self-proclaimed Queen of Queer Cabaret! Miss Annabel Sings trained as an actor before realising her calling was on the fringes of the fringes. Sings has been creating and hosting political comedy cabarets and Queer performance parties in community venues, theatres and festivals since 2006. Sings lead DIY Theatre workshops for adults with additional needs plus reminiscence sessions via song for people with dementia and/or mental health. Her work strives to amplify Queer and hidden voices to audiences. Together we can create safe, joyous spaces to encourage positive change with lasting impact (and have fun doing it).
On the appointment Miss Annabel Sings commented: “After fifteen years in the business of fringe show business It is with great excitement to be invited on board. I am here to represent voices like myself who feel marginalised by mainstream culture and funding How exciting that we, as a group are being given the opportunity to assist in helping shape an equal, safer and fairer platform for all those who want to perform and create in Scotland!”