Anti-Racism Storytelling Pathways announces the team of freelancers

Bevin Magama, Duke Al Durham, Phil Okwedy, Ayisha De Lanerolle and Jafar Iqbal will be part of the new Anti-Racism Storytelling Pathways team – a brand new two year programme which will ensure unheard stories and voices from across Wales are represented and embedding anti-racist storytelling practice across Wales.

The project is delivered in a partnership between Beyond the Border Wales’ International Storytelling Festival and People Speak Up, two organisations with a
strong track record of strengthening and showcasing diverse stories of communities in
Southwest and across Wales, through the current Mycelium Storytelling Hub. The partners have been able to develop this project from funding from Welsh Government’s Anti-Racist Wales Culture, Heritage and Sport Fund.

The Contemporary Cyfarwyddion and Producer will be creating activities with communities and developing co-created cultural programmes, which celebrate the rich and diverse stories of our shared heritage. The programme will be supported by organisational partners initiating artform-focused anti-racist training and organisational anti-racist action plans, working actively and assertively to be anti-racist.
“This is an exciting time to be revealing and connecting new stories in a Wales which is committed to an expansive vision of our futures. I’m looking forward to helping the wonderful team of creatives to realise their ideas and supporting the collaborating organisations on their anti-racism journey.” Anti-Racism Storytelling Pathways Project Manager, Ayisha De Lanerolle

Bevin Magama and Duke Al Durham have been appointed as Contemporary Cyfarwyddion who will be unearthing stories and voices in Newport and Rhondda Cynon Taff. They join Phil Okwedy who is continuing in the Contemporary Cyfarwydd role he has been carving out over the past year with People Speak Up across the south west Wales region.

Bevin Magama is a Zimbabwean-born professional storyteller and author living in Newport and has worked on the Arts Council of Wales’s Lead Creative Programme as a Creative Practitioner and a Creative Agent. Bevin has also collaborated with the Welsh Refugee Council and Wales Millennium Centre, in his capacity as an artistic director and storyteller, to produce performances and artistic expressions for refugees.

Bevin said: “Being a Contemporary Cyfarwdd is a dream come true, an opportunity to be the vessel that uses storytelling to inspire communities to live in harmony with one another irrespective of colour or race. My vision is to see Wales sprinting towards the finish line and lifting the trophy as UK’s exemplary anti-racist nation.”

Duke Al Durham is a published poet, spoken word artist, rapper, and facilitator based in Cardiff. He is the author of ‘Bittersweet: The Highs, The Lows, Hypers and Hypos of Living with Type 1 Diabetes’. He also published work with BBC Wales for the 2022 World Cup, BT Sports ‘Sport in Words’ for Black History Month on Sir Lewis Hamilton, Cardiff Metropolitan Anthology 8, Artes Mundi journal, on Amazon and BBC Scrum V for The Six Nations 2022.

Duke Al Durham said, “I am so grateful to be a part of such a meaningful project. The role of a storyteller allows me to explore and share the powerful stories of others. I want to work with the Alcohol Liaison Service in RCT and speak with service users. I want to give service users a voice and an opportunity to share their stories. I hope to then write a spoken word play that justifies the raw conversations we will have. I aim to break down the stigma of alcoholism and mental health. Everybody has a story to tell, everybody has something to say, humans have been sharing stories for centuries, they are a way of self-expression, understanding each other and they bring us closer together.”

Phil Okwedy is a Pembrokeshire based writer and storyteller and was featured as a ‘New Directions’ artist at Beyond the Border Wales International Storytelling Festival in 2021. He was a commissioned storyteller for National Theatre Wales’ Go Tell the Bees project and is currently writing a book based on his recent Welsh storytelling Tour, The Gods Are All Here, produced by Adverse Camber

and is part of Literature Wales’ Representing Wales, Developing Writers of Colour programme. Phil’s first book, Wil & the Welsh Black Cattle, is a brilliant collection of Welsh folktales framed around the mythology of the ancient cattle drovers. Phil also delivers on the pioneering ‘stories on prescription delivery arts and health service for People Speak Up.

Phil said, “Building on the work begun as a community with People Speak Up, I am excited to see how this role develops in response to working with diverse communities. I’m delighted at the opportunity to support, develop and empower voices that are currently underrepresented and often unheard. I’m also relishing the prospect of working as part of such an inspiring team.”

Working with the Contemporary Cyfarwyddion will be producer, Jafar Iqbal who has worked in the arts sector for over two decades. He was recently the Learning and Participation Producer on GALWAD, the epic transmedia event made with National Theatre Wales and Sky Arts. He is also founder of Scene/Change, the first ever new playwriting scheme for Welsh and Wales-based artists of South Asian heritage. As an arts journalist, Jafar has spoken passionately about systemic issues in the sector; and he founded and hosted the Critically Speaking podcast, in which he spoke to six of the biggest arts leaders in Wales about systemic racism and white privilege in their organisations.

“Getting the opportunity to produce the work with exciting storytellers from the Global Majority is an enormous privilege, and I cannot wait to get started. The importance of the role is not lost on me, and continues my commitment to working with historically excluded communities and giving a platform for their stories to be told. I look forward to the impact this role will have in creating an anti-racist Wales.” Jafar Iqbal.

“This is such an exciting project, just working with the advisory panel so far has been a learning curve, it’s really opened up our recruitment process for both People Speak Up and Beyond the Border. Onwards and upwards for both of our teams and the new recruited team of projects creatives. So we can continue to develop our storytelling services, creating further diverse platforms for voices to be heard – so we can share, listen and learn.” Eleanor Shaw, People Speak Up.

For further information about Anti-Racism Storytelling Pathways please visit – Anti-Racism Storytelling Pathways

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