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Hassan Mahamdallie – “It’s about the art we create and the Britain that we are”

(First published by the Creative Case for Diversity June ’13)

What struck me about Hassan’s video is his ability to capture and articulate, acutely and unreservedly the case for diversity and equality within the arts. Rooted in fairness and the plethora of creative content that society provides, his perspective has proved pivotal in the shaping and delivery of the creative case for diversity.

As he highlights the importance of re-positioning diversity and equality to the centre of the arts and artistic practice, Hassan offers Rich Mix in Bethnal Green, London as one example of an “egalitarian” organisation. He states, “it’s a space where people can come together.” I can attest to the egalitarian feel to the building and it’s output. There’s no formula. The programming is eclectic; made up of live music, film, dance, theatre, comedy and spoken word, it’s diverse in both form and content. Rich Mix is extrapolating diversity rather than negotiating it and in doing so, becomes a reflection of its surroundings.

The relationship between art and society is imperative to the creation of art that’s insightful, stirring and questioning. A strong tie between the two feeds that creative process. And has Hassan states, “the art we create reflects the Britain that we are.” To underestimate or overlook the potency of that tie is nonsensical.

A measure of that relationship working is seeing the world reflected in the art that’s produced. “If we’re not seeing the world reflected in our theatres, galleries and dance stages, we’re not telling the whole story. There’s something missing,” says Hassan.

So what does the whole story look like?

Well, to begin with there are no barriers. All artists are treated as equals and provided with a platform to create, without any expectations or limitations being imposed on their vision. In essence, artists are free to catapult into the world their own voice, perspective and creations. Minority groups, or any groups for that matter are not homogenous. No one perspective or voice is the same, and so achieving real diversity and equality across the sector requires the ability to access the plurality from within our society and artistic community and grant it equal billing.

Decision-makers who understand that plurality, and are prepared to take a risk on something new, will not only fuel innovation but will create a cultural legacy that’s truly reflective of the time and character of our society.

It’s not just about achieving Great Art for Everyone, but achieving Great Art for Everyone, by Everyone. For me, that’s the whole story. And I hope the transformative leap that Hassan speaks of so enthusiastically is imminent.

 Amardeep Sohi