Image of KASABIAN - via Neil Bedford

Sainsbury Centre

A Quick Q&A With...

Sainsbury Centre

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How do you define 'cultural empowerment' in the context of your work?


As a curator, cultural empowerment means the awareness and appreciation of diversity in cultures and its importance in developing and fostering social cohesion, through challenging stereotypes and prejudices in favour of more accurate and inclusive perspectives within the museum.


It is also the facilitation of access and visibility to diverse cultures through meaningful engagement with one’s community by facilitating the co-curation of exhibitions and/or projects with schools. This interaction creates a platform for communities to be ‘heard’ as they have power and control of the narrative and presentation of their stories. 


At the Sainsbury Centre, I am working collaboratively across departments to activate, engage and foster relationships with communities (originating and diasporans) and artists.

Photograph by Neil Bedford
Photograph by Neil Bedford
Photograph by Neil Bedford
Photograph by Neil Bedford

What types of programs and activities do you organize, and how do they contribute to cultural empowerment?


I am still in my first year of the role, but everything I do, from curating exhibitions to being involved in the organisation of events and conferences, is about collaboration and engagement. 


Our exhibitions seek to foster cultural dialogue and exchange by reframing and answering the most important questions people have in their lives through engaging and connecting with the Art- which we recognise as living. 


I am working with our learning team within communities and learning settings on various projects which feature a diverse array of artists and collections. Additionally, the Sainsbury Centre hosts events which present opportunities and spaces to explore collaborations. I am currently developing partnerships with organisations and artists in Rwanda and South Africa.

How do you address issues of inclusivity and representation within your work?


There must always be a good mix of diverse voices represented within a project so that people are seen. We strive to ensure the representation of all ages, genders, races and nationalities through exposure and unity.

What strategies do you use to build partnerships and collaborations with other organisations or stakeholders?


Partnerships and collaborations usually form during different projects including research and co-curation of exhibitions. They tend to develop and are fostered during the production of the publication that accompanies each season of exhibitions. This is because a lot of people are involved.


The Sainsbury Centre also regularly loans objects to other museum institutions all over the world such as the National Portrait Gallery, Centre Pompidou and the Museo Reina Sofia. 


There are many teams within the Centre doing amazing things. These cross-departmental collaborations with the Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Cultures and the Sainsbury Research Unit have resulted in many successful projects. The Centre has also hosted mental health and grief support sessions through Climate Anxiety Cafes with Mind- a mental health charity and Grief Cafes with Cruse Bereavement respectively.

Looking ahead, what new initiatives or projects are you excited about?


I am most excited for our next show to open, The Camera Never Lies. This is in collaboration with The Incite Project and curated by Tristan Lund and Harriet Logan. The show will explore the truth within photography and features prominent historic images from photographers such as Don McCullin, Dorothea Lang and Robert Capa. 

Plus, future seasons exploring drugs and killing, are promising to be interesting.

How do you see the role of cultural empowerment evolving in the next decade?


Museum collections are increasingly becoming contact zones for dialogue with communities to tackle contemporary problems. Over the next decade, I would like to see an increase in the representation of minorities in the museum space-both artists and audience.The accessibility and democratisation of access to collections should become more prominent through participation, co-production and co-curation, among other, collaborations. During our current season What is Truth? the Sainsbury Centre collection has been used by artists within their contemporary work. During a residency here, Rashaad Newsome will create site-specific holographic work which will speak to objects in our collection. We can learn and grow stronger this way.

What advice would you give to someone looking to contribute to cultural empowerment in their own community?


Cultural empowerment requires one to be earnest in their quest to engage a community. Listening to a community’s needs as opposed to implementing programs one assumes are needed is very important as it reassures them that they are valued as active participants within the society and allows them to be activists championing causes that are meaningful and impactful to them.

Check out KASABIAN's website for updates on their new album 'Happenings' releasing July 5th.