Emily Labhart

thinking about dance, arts management and cultural representation

#ProducerLife : Disruption

In October 2020, I was successful in securing funding from HomeGrown31 for O’Driscoll Collective’s first cross-art project Disruption.

Disruption brought together a dance artist, a spoken word artist, a digital specialist and a producer (all based in the West Midlands) for the first time, to undertake a period of research and development exploring themes related to the black male identity and toxic masculinity. Find out more about Jamaal, Sipho, Shintai and I in the video below!

 

The initial idea for Disruption came about in response to the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement in May 2020.

The public lynching of George Floyd brought black struggles and the fight for equality and justice into the spotlight. Though the prominence of BLM has disrupted global consciousness and has been the catalyst for a number of positive changes, the repeated trauma of seeing black people suffering (whether on social media, the news or other outlets) over and over again can have a negative impact on black mental health and throws into question what it means to be black in today’s society.

Disruption therefore came about as an artistic response to these issues, creating a safe space to make sense of current events through a range of creative approaches.

Disruption, behind the scenes. Photo credit: Anthony Lloyd.

From December 2020-March 2021, the team completed the research and development phase of the project remotely, including interviews with inspirational UK creatives:

  • CJ & Mathias, Artistic Directors of Light Post Theatre Company (Birmingham) – watch their interview series here.
  • Call Me Unique, musician & singer/songwriter (Birmingham) – watch her interview series here.
  •  Jonzi D, Artistic Director of Breakin’ Convention (London) – watch his interview series here.

Alongside these conversations, the team also delivered free Breakin’ and poetry workshops online for young black people in Birmingham exploring creative responses to BLM, identity and culture.

Disruption, behind the scenes. Photo credit: Anthony Lloyd.

This research led to the creation of the Disruption film, which brought together bespoke Rocking choreography, brand new spoken word and innovative filming techniques to capture the stories and experiences of the creative team, the interviewees and the young people we worked with.

Disruption premiered on 29 April 2021 on the O’Driscoll Collective Instagram page. This was followed by a live Q&A with the creative team on 30 April 2021. Disruption was then selected to be presented at Birmingham International Dance Festival, as part of their Midlands Made programme 3-13 June 2021.

Watch Disruption below:

What was my role?

In a nutshell, my job was to provide the infrastructure to make sure the project could happen. Things like:

  • Writing the bid to secure a commission from HomeGrown31
  • Communicating with artists and drawing up contracts
  • Drawing up the project schedule (and making sure we stuck to it!)
  • Devising comms & PR campaigns for social media
  • Building partnerships with commissioners & supporters
  • Managing the project budget, monitoring cash-flow and signing off all expenditure
  • Plus about 1,000 other things!

Disruption, behind the scenes. Photo credit: Anthony Lloyd.

This was a phenomenal project to be part of, that celebrated the creative talent in the West Midlands whilst tackling poignant topics with sensitivity and care. Big up Jamaal, Shintai & Sipho for the vision, the joy, the jokes – it was a dream making this come to life with you. Looking forward to more projects together!

Disruption was commissioned by HomeGrown31, supported by Creative Academies Network, Esmee Fairbairn Foundation and Arts Council England.

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