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Phakama's Diversity Journal

The origins of Phakama are in the intersectional practice of the Theatre of the Oppressed and the radical mobilisations for justice and equality that overthrew South African apartheid. Our affirmation of anti-racism and our commitment to dismantling institutional racism in all its forms, in all its connections with all other forms of oppression (gender, sexuality, class, disability, ecological, biopolitical, etc.), is the very meaning of our vision of co-creation: Give & Gain. Through Give & Gain, we promote a non-hierarchical way of learning – an interchange of skills, knowledge, information and ideas where everyone becomes both student and teacher. 


Black Lives Matter has given the UK participatory arts sector an historic opportunity which Phakama will continue to support, learn and grow with. We take seriously the promise of decolonising, intersectionality, and anti-racism and we will continue to explore this in our practice, in our community, in our artist networks, and in our ethics. 

We have decided to present our ongoing thoughts, findings, learning and ideas on diversity as this is a diversity journal rather than as a statement. This is because we don’t feel that this conversation has come to a conclusion, but rather that it is a fluid and ever-changing discussion as more voices are, rightfully, heard.

By presenting it as a journal we are able to acknowledge the continual learning that we as an organisation need to acquire to ensure that we continue to support people from all walks of life, continuing to celebrate the individual, celebrating differences, and celebrating diverse voices. 

This journal page will be updated and adapted as we listen, learn and contribute to the conversation.

Paper map of the world stuck to a black

In November 2020, the Phakama Board Away Day discussions focussed on diversity and the ways in which Phakama could actively move forward as an organisation to expand and grow its work and strategy around diversity.

The day was full of fruitful and important conversations. Some of the days findings were:

The Strengths of Phakama’s work centres on:


  • Offering a safe space.

  • Genuine.

  • Brilliant Diverse Artists.

  • Naturally responding.

  • Non-Hierarchical work.

Areas for improvement/what Phakama have not been doing so well:


  • Public policy for justice.

  • Lack of lobbying.

  • Wider audiences.

  • Missing the conversation.

This Away Day was the springboard for our journalling,  through which we can address our own need to be more diverse in new ways learning and committing to recommendations, including the those that came out of the INC Arts conference Reset and Heal. The #BAMEOVER movement goes beyond the need to just merely rid the sector of the term BAME*, but to look at the following:

- That rejecting term minority actively goes a long way towards understanding a global majority world view.

-The sector can take action which means others aren’t hurt by terminology, discrimination, unconscious bias or lack of  policy.

 -That we can explore groups with a focus on diaspora and people being ethnically diverse rather than BAME*

It is important we understand people can be harmed in many ways – through behaviours, lack of sensitivity and lack of growth.

Page updated January 2021

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