Crossing The Pond, Again!
It seems like the United Kingdom is becoming my second home! I have crossed the pond from the U.S. to the U.K. several times, representing both Sins Invalid and the Krip-Hop Nation. In the last three years, I’ve been to London, Liverpool, and now Manchester, as an artist and cultural critic.Late last year, I received an e-mail from the Decibel Performing Arts Showcase (DPAS), an international arts festival. They invited me to be a delegate at the 2011 showcase, on September 12-16th. DPAS seeks to promote diverse practice in the performing arts sector. This bi-annual event aims to more fully represent and reflect the different cultures and backgrounds that make the UK unique in the world. For the past two years, it has included people with disabilities and the art that we produce. My friends in London mentioned that the festival began as a Black arts festival, but has since transformed into the goal of diversity in the arts. If you’re interested in more history of the DPAS, check out their site.Back to the e-mail! The invite from the DPAS explained that I was selected as one of eight recipients of a Visiting Arts International Connections bursary scheme — offering bursaries for producers, programmers, cultural critics, and artistic directors to attend the showcase with two main objectives (1) to allow them a unique opportunity to gain insight into diversity debates and policy in the UK, and (2) to enable them to act as advocates and promoters supporting diverse English artists by buying work, and introducing them to networks and cultural markets overseas. The list of eight delegates was as follows:• Sam Cook, Director of The Dreaming: International Indigenous Festival, Australia• Sasha Dees, independent curator and producer, Holland• Kath Duncan, multi-media producer and cultural commentator, Australia• Anjum Katyal, Editor, Art and the City, India• Monique Martin, Director of Family Programming, City Parks Foundation, USA• Leroy Franklin Moore Jr., Co-Founder of Sins Invalid, USA• Louise Tu'u, writer, director and producer, New Zealand• WANG Chong, Program Director of Beijing International Fringe Festival, China• Percy Yip Tong, Director of Kool Kreol, MauritiusAs a selected cultural critic, my participation began on the first day at two panels for the Creative Case Symposium led by the British Arts Council. The British Arts Council, the BBC, art companies from all over the U.K., and art directors came together to talk about diversity in the arts. For the rest of the festival, delegates attended shows, plays, talks, and live music performances.This is the sixth international art festival that I’ve attended outside of the U.S., and it seems like the artists have to cut so much of their work to fit in the short times to present with very little tech provided. It seemed to put a lot on the artists and directors to bring it another level. Of course, my mind was swimming thinking about how Sins Invalid would do at an international arts festival where tech is low, time is tight, and there are many other performances occurring simultaneously. How could an environment such as this support an artist with multiple disabilities like performers at Sins Invalid? Something to think about!I had a chance to meet some wonderful critics and artists, and to network outside the festival for Sins Invalid & Krip-Hop Nation. At one point, some of us delegates did start to wonder if there would be more time for us to reflect on our experiences together, and to represent our work in an additional panel. Although we asked for that opportunity to share our thoughts and artwork, it was turned down. Beyond that sticky situation, I made connections that I hope will benefit Sins Invalid and Krip-Hop Nation down the road. It felt good to meet so many artists with disabilities from all over the world.As I walked out of San Francisco International Airport I realized that my passport will expire in a few months, and I thought to myself: I can’t let that happened with possible offers for future gigs across the pond with Sins Invalid and Krip-Hop Nation in the coming New Year!!Happily back in the Bay,Leroy Moore Jr.Sins Invalid’s Community Relations Director