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Statement Project Phakama UK 28th September 2023

It is with great sadness and regret that the Trustees of Project Phakama have taken the decision to close the charity and the company from December 2023. The decision has been made after considerable work to find an alternative business operating model to support the charity’s work after the loss of its Arts Council England NPO funding which was announced last November.

The company wants to thank the hundreds of people who have been a part of Project Phakama’s work over the past twenty-five years: the artists, young people, partners, volunteers, participants, and audiences who have believed in Phakama’s practice, rooted in conversation and a desire to play. There are too many projects to mention here, but we are particularly proud of the flagship youth programme Rise Up, and in more recent years Talking Books, Edible Garden, Behind Four Walls The Way to My Heart, New Histories /Untold Stories and Community Lunch.

In recent years and through Covid, Phakama demonstrated its unwavering ability to show resilience during difficult times. Some standout work was created collaboratively including The Language of Resilient Expression, The Full English, The Resistance Festival and the Cutting East Film Festival, our work with Queen Mary University’s Public Engagement team, MECP and Museum of The Home, Wolfson Institute and the Mad Hearts: The Arts and Mental Health conference.

The Trustees extend our sincere thanks to the Executive team, young creatives and Associate Artists who have devised an exceptional programme of work over the last three years responding to our changing times and the crisis felt by so many during the pandemic.

A significant focus of our work over the final few months will be to oversee the redistribution of the company’s assets in line with charity law and for the benefit of the creative community in East London. We will announce more details in the coming weeks.

Thank you to all for your support and the wonderful memories which have been created with Project Phakama.

Our Vision

To empower people to be the fullest version of themselves, where participation in, rather than mastery of, the world is celebrated.

Two young people in the forground are hugging surrounded by others all laughing and smiling at them.

Image by Caroline Gervay

Image by Caroline Gervay

Our Mission

1. To create daring performances in unusual spaces, which celebrate the art of existence and creates shared spaces where the seemingly impossible becomes possible.

2. To unite communities through a process of Give & Gain, which is trail-blazing, non-hierarchical and life-affirming.

3. To bring together young people and diverse communities, who otherwise would not have opportunity to connect, and provide a platform from which to express, grow and perform.

What we do

Phakama’s approach transcends age, experience and culture. Driven by a common desire to make high quality performance, we are fuelled by the diversity of all those involved. Through a process that we call Give & Gain, learning becomes two-

A young man leans against a wall which has a map of the world hung on it. One the floor is a map mad of masking tape. Other young people are in the background.

Image by Nurull Islam

way; everyone has something they can give to the project and everyone has something to gain. And through this interchange of skills, knowledge, information and ideas,everyone becomes both student and teacher.

We are committed to the practice of cultural exchange and the celebration of shared experiences; by promoting a non-hierarchical educational philosophy through the medium of the arts and training participants to become the Phakama facilitators of the future.

Set Up in 1996 

Lots of hands are reaching up to a suitcase being carried above peoples heads

Originally launched as an arts exchange programme involving young people and arts and education practitioners, Phakama was set up in 1996 as an initiative of Lift (London International Festival of Theatre) in partnership with Sibikwa Community Theatre from Johannesburg – South Africa.

Now an independent charitable organisation based at Queen Mary University of London.

Phakama is based at Christopher France House at Queen Mary University of London and although we are an independent organisation we have a long-standing collaborative relationship with the university. We are thrilled to be firmly rooted in this great academic institution which provides quality learning for so many young people.

Phakama’s methodology of Give & Gain, our vision to make work in daring spaces and our plight to create non-elitist theatre all chime for many of the students who at different times interact with Phakama’s work.  Many young people have come through different Phakama projects as a result of enrolling on QMUL courses. And of course Phakama’s young people are able to enjoy the rich facilities and ongoing events which QMUL offer. We offer our thanks to QMUL’s School of English and Drama and further departments we have worked with for their ongoing support of Phakama and we hope that we are able to continue to Give & Gain together for many more years to come. 

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