'Being and Making Change in Arts, Culture and Heritage' - International Women's Day and Athena SWAN Lecture 2019

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International Women

Who this event is for

  • Everyone


JHB Main Lecture Theatre, John Henry Brookes Building, Headington Campus


The arts and heritage sectors see women in leadership roles throughout regional organisations, however at national level this continues to be a challenge.

Across the country, considerable work is focused on achieving meaningful engagement with audiences and ensuring impact on the significant issues for society today. However, a continuing and pressing challenge is around the diversity of those audiences and those working in these sectors. 

Drawing from her work as an actor, director, visiting lecturer and arts professional, Yasmin Sidhwa has developed Mandala Theatre Company to present a diverse programme of work that uses the power of theatre to change lives, build community, and foster social justice.

Karen Perkins uses her broad portfolio of experience in arts, culture and heritage to develop new initiatives and programmes through Luton Culture which aim to engage the plural communities of Luton, building civic pride and fostering cohesion.

Our speakers:

Yasmin Sidhwa, Artistic Director, Mandala Theatre Company.

Yasmin has 25 years’ experience working and touring nationally and internationally as a professional actor and director. She has performed with The National Theatre, in repertory and on TV. She has directed work for Tara Arts, the Edinburgh and International Women’s Festivals, and Pegasus Theatre, Oxford, where she was creative learning director for 17 years. She was founder and director of Mesh, a bi-annual international Youth Arts festival, which she ran for a number of years.

Mandala Theatre Company uses the live experience of young people, supported by academic research, to make visceral theatre with social justice as a creative catalyst, bringing new and previously unheard stories to mainstream audiences – and into the heart of those communities whose stories they are. Touring nationally and internationally, the plays are a catalyst for debate and discussion and dynamic, interactive workshops within local communities. The employment, training and nurturing of young performers from diverse backgrounds, both ethnic and economic is central to Mandala's ethos.

Yasmin received an Oxfordshire High Sheriff’s Award in 2014 for services to the arts and young people and is a member of the Board of Governors of Oxford Brookes University.

Karen Perkins, Director of Culture & Engagement Luton Culture

Karen started her career at The British Museum as an Archaeologist, and later Collections Manager in the Departments of Medieval Antiquities. There she worked extensively on the development of National and International Loans and exhibitions and partnership projects to improve access to the treasures of the museum, to a world audience.

After 16 years she moved to Luton Culture, a large arts and culture charity. Here she discovered a very different approach to engagement. Her work now covers the development and delivery of artistic, heritage and learning programmes, across theatres, libraries, arts and music venues, public realm spaces and award winning heritage sites.

The site of Wardown House Museum and Gallery, which reopened in April 2017 after major redevelopment, was informed by an innovative volunteering and community engagement project called 'Museum Makers', inspired by the London 2012 Olympic Games. Its aim was to diversify its audience and volunteer workforce and build ‘real’ partnerships through a co-production methodology. She is now expanding this idea into new areas of her work through, Library Makers and across Luton’s Cultural Quarter, with Culture Makers. This work is now starting to transform the very direction and vision of Luton Culture.