Diverse Actions: SKIN in the GAME – Documentation and Responses

SKIN IN THE GAME was a day-long interactive symposium, organised by Diverse Actions and taking place at Z-Arts in Hulme (Manchester) on 28 November 2019. The symposium was the first in a series of planned Diverse Actions legacy initiatives.

SKIN IN THE GAME brought together of a representative cohort of artists, journalists and researchers of colour from across the UK, offering a platform to thinking and discussion around ghettoisation, radical constitutions, anti-racist work, representation and leadership within both Live Art and wider culture. It was imagined as an open space for discursive honesty.

This is not a training day, it’s not a day for answers - it’s a day for listening.

Diverse Actions

Diverse Actions was a three year initiative, taking place between 2017 and 2019, championing diversity within the Live Art sector. The Diverse Actions programme has included: helping artists with professional development, supporting the creation of new work, building upon strong leadership and stimulating discourse to ensure a lasting legacy. Diverse Actions was managed by Afreena Islam, Amy Lawrence and Salome Wagaine, and led by Cambridge Junction on behalf of LAUK, and supported by an Arts Council England Ambition for Excellence grant.

Diverse Actions Activity

Legacy Initatives

The SKIN in the GAME symposium took place in Manchester, 28 November 2019. It was documented through photographs by Chan-Yang Kim, and vocal responses were collated by Chrystal Genesis and L’Oreal Blackett for Stance Podcast.

A publication, Vanishing Points edited by Ava Wong Davies and Ben Kulvichit is forthcoming, and will be launched at the ICA (London) on Wednesday 18 March 2020. Vanishing Points is a new anthology of cultural criticism, focusing on the making, watching and conditions of live art and performance in the UK today, featuring contributions from Season Butler, Jack Tan, Selina Thompson, Zarina Muhammad, Marjorie Morgan, Rajni Shah and Cecilia Wee.

RSVP to the Vanishing Points Launch

Developmental activities took place in 2018  – professional development for writers of colour at Cambridge Junction and Compass Festival of Live Art, with participants having access to work across the Compass programme.


SKIN IN THE GAME consisted of discussion, workshops and performances. Afreena Islam and Harold Offeh hosted a morning of flash talks and provocations from speakers including Hetain PatelAnnie Jael Kwan and Hardeep Pandhal  regarding the sharp questions around diverse programming. Jade Montserrat hosted an extended interview with Chanje Kunda around Kunda’s experiences navigating cultural and legal systems. Over the lunch break, attendees could watch a durational screening of a film by Hetain Patel, or enter into conversations regarding Live Art and diversity with Cecilia Wee, who is one member of the collective undertaking the Live Art Histories and Futures research project.

In the afternoon, Paula Akpan, CEO of Black Girl Fest, delivered the keynote address on leadership and attendees participated in workshops re-imagining Live Art of the future with Season Butler, or joining Jack Tan to consider possibilities around decolonising governance and queering constitutions: if we were to centre the anti-racist, feminist and queer ways of being what would a company’s or charity’s constitution look like?

Following a dinner break, a trio of Diverse Actions artists presented short performances: Alexandrina Hemesley, a dance artist and writer and one half of Project O, performed a new work, Embers; Season Butler performed an excerpt from her lecture performance, Happiness Forgets, about race, sex, nostalgia and familiarity; Nima Séne presented an excerpt of Beige B*tch, a visually challenging, multimedia theatre performance concerned with black culture, white responsibility and belonging.




The day was documented by Mancunian photographer Chan-Yang Kim and Nima Sene took over LADA’s instagram. Commentary on the day was collated by Chrystal Genesis from Stance Podcast with guest host L’Oreal BlackettStance is an arts and culture podcast, hosting interviews with a broad range of creatives. Practical aid to support the attendance and inclusion of attendees was made a priority in preparations for SKIN IN THE GAME and people of colour were centred at all levels of activity. SKIN IN THE GAME was a free event hosted in a fully accessible building, with a designated quiet room. Live BSL Interpretation was available and the theatre space had an audio induction loop. For those who needed aid in covering the expenses of attending there was a bursary scheme for childcare and travel costs.


Listen to the SKIN IN THE GAME Podcast Download Alexandrina Hemsley's response to the day
Performance: Season Butler (artist) sits at a table with a laptop and points to the projection screen behind her. Image Credit: Happiness Forgets (2019), Season Butler, SKIN IN THE GAME, Chan-Yang Kim
Two artists in casual conversation. Image Credit: Harold Offeh and Annie Jael Kwan (2019), SKIN IN THE GAME, Chan-Yang Kim
A group of participants look at notes on a wall. Image Credit: Participants in Season Butler's workshop (2019), SKIN IN THE GAME, Chan-Yang Kim

Banner image credit:

Image Credit: Happiness Forgets (2019), Season Butler, SKIN IN THE GAME, Chan-Yang Kim

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