In this final provocation of the series Samar Ziadat explores the vital need for safe community spaces within the context of the current political climate.
Samar is a co-founder of Dardishi, and the project’s Programmer and Coordinator. She is also the Programme Coordinator of Glasgow Zine Library and a programmer at the Scottish Queer International Film Festival.
“Our festival functions as a hub for us to meet in the context of each other’s work, a space in which we can feel safe and engage in community wellbeing.”
The project that I dedicate most of my time to is Dardishi, which is a radical community arts project that showcases the cultural production of Arab and North African womxn in Glasgow. Annually, we deliver a three-day festival, an issue of our print zine, and a year-round programme of events.
Our festival functions as a hub for us to meet in the context of each other’s work, a space in which we can feel safe and engage in community wellbeing, and as the only platform for Arab and North African womxn’s cultural production in Scotland. Our year-round events are designed to take our work to audiences outside of Glasgow’s city centre and to help build and sustain community outwith* the festival period. Our print and online zines offer curatorial context for our work in mediums that are accessible internationally and at an affordable price point to those who cannot attend our events for various reasons.
“With the continued rise of right-wing politics in the UK and abroad… the existence and development of politically-engaged POC-lead projects like Dardishi are as urgent and pertinent as ever.”
With the continued rise of right-wing politics in the UK and abroad, and the resulting normalisation of racist, sexist, homophobic and anti-refugee rhetoric in the mainstream British press, the existence and development of politically-engaged POC-lead projects like Dardishi are as urgent and pertinent as ever. Within this increasingly hostile political climate, womxn of colour face oppression through gender discrimination, transphobia and racism, and those who are young, queer, working class and disabled face further marginalisation.
In addition, those who are already marginalised are also facing different and disproportionate impacts of the Coronavirus than the general population; with women and children facing an increased risk and severity of domestic abuse when there is a requirement to stay home; ‘gig economy’ workers, who are more likely to be young, from a BAME background or have caring commitments, are facing major economic impact during this time; according to Stonewall, for some LGBT people, the risks of homelessness, insecure employment, restricted access to healthcare and other inequalities will deepen as a result of the health crisis; Inclusion London has said that the Coronavirus Bill will only oblige local authorities to provide support in cases where the human rights of Disabled people will be breached, which “poses a serious risk to the lives of many Disabled people, especially those of us who need social care support; and the pressure on healthcare and education settings and specialist services which would normally identify and assess risks and provide support, will leave many of these marginalised people without adequate support during this time.
“In the years leading up to this health crisis, marginalised people had already seen a lack of Government safeguarding of vulnerable peoples, through the introduction of austerity measures that value economic growth over the care of its people.”
In the years leading up to this health crisis, marginalised people had already seen a lack of Government safeguarding of vulnerable peoples, through the introduction of austerity measures that value economic growth over the care of its people. These measures have led to the diminishment of localised public services such as town halls, parks, libraries, schools, mental health and care services, and leisure centres. Under lockdown, these failures have been amplified, and as we emerge from lockdown, we are entering the worst recession in more than three centuries.
The big, big question that I can’t stop asking myself is: under these conditions, how do we facilitate alternative spaces for community-making and wellbeing that are ethical, safe, and accessible? Because if that isn’t the most urgent question that art-workers are asking themselves today – then what is?
About Samar Ziadat
Previous to her current work Samar partnered on curatorial projects with LUX Scotland, the Centre for Contemporary Arts Glasgow, and Glasgow Women’s Library. In 2019, she was shortlisted for the Arab British Centre’s Award for Culture 2019, and also named one of YWCA Scotland’s 30 under 30.
Connect with Samar on Twitter
*In Scottish English outwith means outside
All images © Khadija Moustafa
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