Radical Strategies for Change

As part of the Leeds Dance Partnership Online Series, we supported the online discussion Radical Strategies for Change led by Sarah Shead from Artistic Mutiny UK. Read more about our work with independent artists during the 2020 lockdown.

About the Event 

Director of Spin Arts and Captain of Artistic Mutiny UK, Sarah Shead invited The Lowry’s Senior Producer, Claire Symonds, multidisciplinary artist Priya Mistry, and leader of Be More Pirate, Alex Barker, to discuss Radical Strategies for Change. The discussion was facilitated by Leeds Dance Partnership Independent Board Member João Maio.  

Below, Sarah reflects on the provocations she worked with and what she feels the future may hold. 

Radical Strategies for Change 

Sarah Shead

Long before COVID-19 hit and affected the arts and cultural sector in a way none of us could have imagined, I was calling on industry professionals to consider and make urgent changes to ensure their relevance and sustainability.  

I started by unpacking the inequalities facing freelancers by working with The Lowry in Salford to host two separate conversations, one with venues and another with independents, to explore what a more equitable sector might look like.  

This led to a presentation at The Lowry’s Artist Development Toolkit Day, where I led a call to action to 50+ venues committed to Artist Development.

I formed an online group, Artistic Mutiny, committed to exploring and creating a more diverse, equitable and inclusive sector. Join the conversation! 

To share some of the thinking from the group, I worked in partnership with Leeds Dance Partnership, One Dance UK and the National Dance Network to host the Radical Strategies for Change event.  

A dynamic panel of female rogues (The Lowry’s Senior Producer Claire Symonds; multidisciplinary artist Priya Mistry; and leader of Be More Pirate, Alex Barker) shared their treasure trove of insights and unique perspectives about being radical, how they were navigating these uncertain times and seizing the opportunity to rebalance power. 

Through collaborations and challenges such as this, leadership and knowledge sharing are shifting from top-down to horizontal power structures. A reorganisation and redistribution of power, where role models are your peers and not your leaders up ahead. 

Freelancers are no longer willing to wait for years to inherit power. Instead they’re are heading out to take it and make it for themselves. They’re the CEOs of their own lives who can together be troublemakers, provocateurs, rebels, caring, compassionate, inclusive and ethical. 

Radical change is coming. It will be incremental. It will be through partnership and collaborations.  

Artistic Mutiny has since been awarded £10,000 from the Paul Hamlyn Foundation to support their development as a self-organised group seeking greater sector equality and inclusivity.