Maria Oshodi


Diversity within diversity

Creativity is the cross pollination and re –synthesising of a whole range of thoughts, feelings, experiences and influences. It stands to reason that the more exposed you are to a more diverse source of raw material the richer and deeper will the creativity be. So both arts practise coming from the margins and the main-stream needs to aim for inclusion of more diversity within diversity so we don’t just relax at including one strand of difference, but that the cross pollination of influences gets wider, evolves more complexity and becomes ever more interesting as a result. When Extant toured the work of Lynn Manning, a blind African American blind actor and writer in his one man autobiographical piece ‘Weights’, we brought to British audiences not only the experience of a man blinded by a gun shot in a Hollywood bar, but a story also flavoured with ethnicity and class perspectives that gave it its own artistic uniqueness.

Usually this broader experience of diversity comes in the form of individual artists like Lynn Manning, or is platformed in the main-stream by the inclusion of one mode of difference such as the National theatre’s recent casting of Naomi Harris as Elizabeth in Frankenstein, or Nabile Shaban in The Emperor and Galilean. The next step will be for the encouragement of more different strands of diverse arts practise to combine, such as street dance meets sign song or Music hall meets Dance Hall… To support this there is the continuing need for artists to work in exclusive ways to discover and develop their own voices and practise in order to have something clear, defined and valuable to bring to the cross pollination process. Therefore it is our chief funders responsibility to support and nurture the growth of emerging diverse artists and their practise so a steady stream of consciousness from a multiplicity of experiences can be maintained to feed and enrich the arts landscape.