Rights in Focus Network

SAT 7 SEPT 2019 11:30AM – 4:30PM

£6 / £5

About the Event

Autograph's Rights in Focus Network explores how social justice agendas can inform the challenges, practice and discourse of arts engagement.

We meet quarterly to discuss the structural powers shaping the context in which arts engagement work is taking place, and consider how approaches based on the legal, civic, and human rights of participants can inform more ethically aware forms of participatory projects - and help initiate systemic change. 

Please join us for an afternoon of talks, discussion, practice sharing and networking. Our guest speaker will be Tony Cealy.

This event is aimed at arts professionals, socially engaged artists, curators, arts commissioners, facilitators creating workshops in arts and community spaces, artist educators, and those working in community settings - regardless of what stage in your career or practice you are at. You'll be encouraged to share learning, skills and resources from you own practice. We welcome newcomers to the Network.


Rivington Place



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How can the rights of participants be central to the design and delivery of arts engagement?

Why do we work with those most marginalised, excluded or discriminated against?

What ethical dilemmas and power dynamics of arts engagement emerge in these relationships?

Can this work advocate for systemic change at personal, community, organisational and societal levels?

TOPICS the network explores

• Rights, social justice and activism in arts engagement

• Institutional and social power structures, which create conditions of privilege and marginalisation

• Coalitions and partnerships as a force for social change

• Community campaigns achieving a scale of change in their work

• The politics of representation and engagement

• How a rights-focussed approach can address power imbalances in the relationships between participants and arts engagement practitioners

• Creating access for the most marginalised

• Ethics and instrumentalisation

• Building non-transactional relationships with participants

• Radical approaches, methods, and pedagogy for engagement

Guest speaker tony cealy

Tony Cealy is a drama & theatre practitioner, and trainer working intergenerationally with communities at risk.

He is the founder member of Noh Budget Films (est. 1991), and since 1993 has won contracts developing drama-based responses to health and wellbeing, mental health, social care, education, substance misuse, housing and regeneration, youth services and community development, and special educational settings across the UK. Over the last 20 years He has built a strong reputation for innovative and experimental drama and theatre-based projects within the criminal justice system in the UK and across Europe.
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His work is often focused on behavioural change, developing pro-social skills, increasing self-esteem and greater self-awareness with people at risk. This includes theatre and digital video projects in prisons as well as production of cross-artform projects that span the divide between prison and the wider public.

In addition to teaching he often guest lectures at Central School of Speech and Drama, Goldsmiths, Bristol, Leicester and Birmingham Universities. He created the UK’s only weekly forum theatre on the air radio soap opera drama and is currently working pan-London delivering training to young people in the use of role play and interactive theatre techniques for creative 'round table' workshops with officers and staff from the Metropolitan Police and local young people around Stop and Search Issues.

event programme

11:30 – 11:45 Welcome and introductions

11:45 – 13:05 Guest Speaker Tony Cealy

13:05 – 13:50 Lunch (included in ticket price)

13:50 – 4pm
Practice sharing by two network speakers: Alexandra Mckenzie and Mai Omer. Followed by a group discussion and feedback

4 – 4:30pm Feedback and sharing of references and resources

4:30 – 5pm Drinks and networking

Network speaker alexandra mckenzie

"Born and raised in remote rural Australia, moved to the uk in 2001. I have been a professional working artist all my adult life. I’ve learned my skills by working alongside more experienced artists in many fields from figure sculpture to costume making and set design. I work mainly in painting, printmaking and sculpture. I’ve had exhibitions of my own work and a number of residencies working with young people in hospitals and prisons.

I presently work with Hackney Youth Offending Team and am Chair of Governors at Tyssen Community School in Hackney."

Network speaker Mai Omer

Mai Omer is a multimedia artist and curator based in London and Tel Aviv. Her work focuses on the intersections between art, politics and education, and explores how communal spaces affect individuals.

From 2010 – 2017 she worked as a curator at The Israeli Centre for Digital Art, where she co-founded the Ulam project (2014–ongoing). Omer studied Fine Arts at HaMidrasha Faculty of the Arts, Israel (2009), and received her MA in Visual Sociology from Goldsmiths university of London (2018).

Her recent works have been exhibited at Art Night (2019), Raven Row (UK, 2018), Parallel (Canada, 2018), Sadnaot HaOmanim (Israel, 2018), Construction Festival (Ukraine, 2017), and Alfred Gallery (Israel, 2016).

Accessibility at AUTOGRAPH

Everyone is welcome at Autograph. Our building Rivington Place is an accessible space with a step-free entrance at street level, and a lift to all floors. Unisex, accessible toilets are located on all floors.

Download our Accessibility Guide for detailed access information about our venue and transport.

We are happy to help. If you would like to discuss your visit, or have any questions, please contact us at or 020 7749 9200

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Autograph's events are popular, and often sell out. We cannot guarantee that tickets will be available on the door, and recommend booking a ticket in advance. If you need to cancel your ticket for any reason, you can receive a refund up to 24 hours before the start of the event. Concessions tickets are available for students, those on low income, and 65+.


Tickets to this event can only be booked from: this webpage, on Eventbrite, via the Eventbrite ticketing plugin on Autograph's Facebook event, by phoning Autograph at 020 7729 9200, or by emailing Tickets obtained unofficially or resold on Facebook and other social media may not be genuine.


This network event is organised by Autograph and Will Essilfie.


Supported using public funding by Arts Council England
Sample Logo

Banner image: Canva(s) project, 2016 - 2017. Page images, frop top left: 1) 2019 Rights in Focus Conference at Autograph, London. 2) Tony Cealy at Autograph's 2018 Rights in Focus Conference. 3-4) 2018 Rights in Focus Conference at Autograph, London. Photographs by Jalaikon. 5) Alexandra McKenzie 6) Mai Omer, photograph by Simon Beckmann. 7) Rivington Place, home of Autograph. Photograph by Zoë Maxwell.