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Black History Month: What We Did

Posted on 3 November 2016

October marks Black History Month in the UK, and this year, the Belgrade decided to mark it with a number of events.

To launch our programme of Black History Month events, we held an event on Saturday 1 October to showcase all of the amazing events we had coming up at the Belgrade. With a performance from our Black Youth Theatre, a talk from Corey Campbell, Artistic Director of Belgrade Springboard Company Strictly Arts and an introduction to Diversity Rocks, a concert celebrating the diversity of Coventry, this was a fantastic celebration to open Black History Month. It also marked the launch of the University of Warwick’s Centre for Caribbean Studies ‘Embodied Islands’ exhibition here at the Belgrade, and so we got renowned Caribbean restaurant and Coventry institution, Simmer Down Restaurant to cater the event, with all sorts of food, with the callaloo bites, sweetcorn fritters and jerk chicken going down particularly well.

We hosted Warwick University’s Centre for Caribbean Studies ‘Embodied Islands’ Exhibition for the duration of the month, running workshops alongside it throughout October. Giving all of our visitors the chance to see wonderful modern interpretations of the Caribbean, juxtaposed against old colonial images of the Caribbean. The workshops were a great success and gave people the chance to learn more about Caribbean art, history and photography.

Diversity Rocks, with a range of diverse acts, and headlined by The Neville Staple Band was held at the Belgrade on Sunday 16 Oct. A brilliant event to celebrate Coventry as a vibrant, multicultural city, audiences were treated to a variety of music and performance.

On Thurs 20 October, we hosted a talk by Professor Tony Howard from the University of Warwick’s Multicultural Shakespeare Project, entitled Setting Shakespeare Free. Talking about Ira Aldridge, the first black actor to portray Othello on a British stage. and Paul Robeson, who fought adversity to forge an acting career in the first half of the twentieth century, this was an insight into the lives of pioneering actors of colour. If you missed it, fear not – the Multicultural Shakespeare Project and the Belgrade Theatre are teaming up to mark Ira Aldridge’s historic time as manager of Coventry Theatre – the first record of a non-white person running a theatre in Britain. Against Prejudice: Ira Aldridge in Coventry, 1828, is on at the Belgrade on Thurs 17 November.

Finally, on Monday 24 October, during half term, we hosted a Sheroes of History storytelling session for the little ones. Focusing on black sheroes, this session covered female pioneers as far ranging as Bessie Coleman and Wilma Rudolph. The children had time to ask questions and then do some drawings of the amazing women that they had learnt about.

All in all, it was a fantastic month of events and we’re looking forward to October 2017!

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