12 September 2018

Ultiverse Performance Residency

Calling all students and recent graduates looking to gain experience in a professional arts project…

Visual artist, Akeelah Bertram, is looking for performing arts students and recent graduates to take part in a performance residency next week to help develop her immersive installation, Ultiverse. Akeelah and her team are particularly looking for vocalists who can sing in different languages.

This is a fantastic opportunity to learn from professional artists working in a variety of art forms. This residency will take place between 17th-21st September at The Tetley, Leeds.

If you would like to be involved, please email either Akeelah at or GCF Director, Selina, at to find out more, discuss your availability next week. A fee of £30 will paid to you for each session you attend next week.

Ultiverse, Akeelah Bertram

Ultiverse will run at Light Night Leeds 2018 on Friday 5th October, 6-10pm at the Tetley, Leeds. There will also be scheduled performances on the hour from 6–10pm with GCF Creative Associate Artists, Zodwa Nyoni and Akeim Toussaint Buck; composer Aron Kyne and vocalist Thabo Mkwananzi.

23 August 2018

Exploring Windrush Roots

Urban Muhammad in 'Sorrel & Black Cake'. Photo by Tim Smith.
Urban Muhammad in ‘Sorrel & Black Cake’. Photo by Tim Smith

June 2018 marked the 70th anniversary of Windrush. Bringing the first wave of Caribbean migrants to Britain in 1948, this momentous historical event was the beginning of the mass immigration movement in the UK that resulted in an estimated 172,000 West Indian born people living in the UK by 1961; the ‘Windrush Generation’.

We decided to celebrate this important anniversary by creating a new theatre production. The project, entitled Windrush: An Influential Force on British Culture, was made possible through funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund Young Roots programme, which aims help young people explore their heritage through a variety of events and activities.

Although our Windrush project focused on engaging young people with their heritage, we were delighted when Black History buff, Urban Muhammad, got involved with the project after being invited to share his expansive knowledge of Caribbean history and the Windrush story with the project’s young participants.

Urban teaches Black History in Leeds, Huddersfield and Birmingham. The project’s coordinators, writer and poet Khadijah Ibrahiim and musician/composer Christella Litras, asked Urban to contribute to the development of script for this new Windrush inspired production.

When Khadijah mentioned to Urban that there was a role in the script that would be a perfect fit for him, he was slightly taken aback. “I’d never done anything like this before,” said Urban. “But I thought, why not? I’ll give this a try.”

And so he did! The script was finished and the final piece, called Sorrel & Black Cake: A Windrush Story, had its premiere in Leeds on ‘Windrush Day’, Friday 22nd June 2018. Urban played the part of Belford, the pastor son of the recently deceased Windrush passenger, Miss Letty.

“It was nerve-wracking,” said Urban. “But after we’d finished performing, I was filled with exhilaration. It was emotional.”

We asked Urban what guidance he’d give to older people who have never acted on stage before but would be interested in giving it a go. Urban’s advice? “Just do it! Go for it. As they say, life’s too short.”

We are delighted that Sorrel & Black Cake will be appearing at the Ilkley Literature Festival on Friday 5th October 2018. Join the production’s visionary creatives, poet and theatre-maker Khadijah Ibrahiim and composer/musician Christella Litras, as they discuss their inspiration, perform extracts and present never-before seen footage of interviews which inspired the production. This event begins at 7.15pm in the Wharfeside Theatre at Ilkley Playhouse. Tickets can be purchased here.

Urban and the cast of Sorrel & Black Cake. Photo by Tim Smith
Urban and the cast of Sorrel & Black Cake. Photo by Tim Smith

10 May 2018

Congratulations Khadijah!

Many congratulations to our Creative Associate Artist, Khadijah Ibrahiim, on being successfully shortlisted for The Yorkshire Women of Achievement Awards in the Arts Category!

Established by Sue Ryder Wheatfields Hospice, the annual event recognises women who have made an outstanding contribution in Yorkshire across eight categories: Business, Education, Young Achiever, Sport, Jane Tomlinson Courage Award, Community Impact Award, Arts, and Science & Technology.

Khadijah Ibrahiim
Khadijah Ibrahiim, photo credit to Jonathan Turner

Khadijah was born in Leeds of Jamaican parentage. She is a literary activist, live artist, theatre maker, producer, and artistic director of Leeds Young Authors. Hailed as one of Yorkshire’s most prolific poets by BBC Radio, she has appeared on many international stages. Her poetry collection, ‘Another Crossing’, was published by Peepal Tree Press and premiered at the West Yorkshire Playhouse in 2014. She is heavily involved with the Geraldine Connor Foundation and is also a project producer for our Windrush project, Sorrel & Black Cake.

The awards will take place at the Royal Armouries on Friday 18th May. We wish Khadijah the very best of luck!

26 April 2018

Share your story

Photographer and GCF Creative Associate Artist, Tim Smith, is bringing his fantastic exhibition, Island to Island – Journeys through the Caribbean, to Leeds Central Library in July this year. In the meantime, he needs your help!

Island Life, Tim Smith
The Renegades Steel Orchestra on the road as part of the 1967 Trinidad Carnival. Photo by Derek Smith.

Tim is looking for community groups and individuals to share their stories and memories of the Caribbean and the region’s relationship with Leeds. Some of the stories collected will then be used as part of the summer exhibition.

If you would like to share your story and contribute to this exciting exhibition, please get in touch with Tim, who’ll be delighted to hear from you. You can email him at

Photographer, Tim Smith.
Photographer, Tim Smith.

9 March 2018

‘Expect the Unexpected’: Akeim Buck on PLAY

GCF Creative Associate Artist, Akeim Toussaint Buck, chatted to us about his upcoming interactive live creation, PLAY, coming to Seven Arts in Leeds on Friday 16th March.

Akeim makes up one half of Snakebox, an artistic collaboration between himself and Otis Jones. The duo met while studying at the Northern School of Contemporary Dance, where they began exploring their interest in music and dance together. They spent time at the school dancing, writing songs, composing music and choreographing. Before graduating in July 2014, they created an audience participation show called PLAY.

Snakebox presents PLAY
Otis & Akeim, photo by Daniel Phung & Samuel Baxter

PLAY is an interactive live creation inspired by audiences’ response and input. Akeim and Otis guide a controlled participatory experience, gathering information from the audience through games, then transform this information into a performance in the moment.

I asked Akeim about this collaborative approach to making work with artists and audiences. “I love collaborating,” said Akeim. Wonderful things can happen when collaborators share a common passion or drive for an idea, and a pillar fundamental of collaboration is to create a space where “everyone’s ideas are valid.”

For both Akeim and Otis, the idea of playfulness lies at the heart of their collaboration together. For Otis, this passion comes from his love of video games and comedy. For Akeim, it comes from a desire to never really grown up. Akeim describes himself as a “big kid” and compares his art to the principles of Shamanism. A shaman is regarded as having one foot in this world and one foot in the next. An artist is similar; they have one foot in the ‘real world’ and one in another world entirely – a creative world where anything is possible.

I asked what audiences could expect from PLAY. “Audiences should expect the unexpected!” replied Akeim. “PLAY is a workout for the mind and soul, a chance to remind us how connected we can be to each other and the inner child in all of us – the part of us that doesn’t want to go to work on snow days but have snowball fights and make snowmen!”

Want to PLAY with Akeim and Otis? Their imaginative live creation comes to Seven Arts on Friday 16th March, 7:00 – 9.00 pm. Admission is £5 and can be brought here.

Snakebox presents PLAY, photo by Daniel Phung & Samuel Baxter