Rights in Focus Conference

15 & 16 April 2019
9:30am - 5pm


Curated by Ali Eisa and Lucy Keany


This conference will explore how social justice agendas can inform the challenges, practice and discourse of arts engagement.

Over two days, we will 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.

Join us for talks and workshops led by professionals across the arts, academia, social policy, and community sectors. By bringing together these different fields, we hope to profile and share new ideas. Attendees will be encouraged to share learning, skills and resources from their own practice. 
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The Rights in Focus Conference 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.

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?


• 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

• H
ow 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


Sheryll Catto, Co-Director, ActionSpace

Marice Cumber, Accumulate

Ali Eisa, Public Programme Manager (Education), Autograph

Dr Errol Francis, Chief Executive, Culture&

David Hevey, Director, Shape Arts

Charlotte Hollinshead, Associate Artist, ActionSpace

Jessica Horn, Programme Director, African Women’s Development Fund

Adrian Jackson, Artistic Director, Cardboard Citizens

Lucy Keany, Public Programme Manager (Projects and Events), Autograph

Deborah Williams, CEO, The Creative Diversity Network

More speakers TBC

ARTIST-led workshops with

Linda Bell, resident artist at ActionSpace

Mark Lawrence, resident artist at ActionSpace


Sheryll Catto, Co-Director, ActionSpace
ActionSpace is a visual arts organisation based in London supporting artists with learning disabilities; and creating innovative projects for people with learning disabilities to engage with the visual arts. Sheryll joined ActionSpace as Co-Director in 2008, having worked in the creative sector for over 25 years. She has a personal and professional interest in supporting the development of creative practices, and providing people with learning disabilities with the same opportunities as their peers in the contemporary visual arts sector.

Linda Bell, resident artist at ActionSpace
Linda has been a resident artist at the ActionSpace Voltaire Studio since 1999. As her work has developed and grown in confidence she has exhibited extensively, the quality and unique nature of her interactive artwork is widely recognised with Linda frequently being selected for group exhibitions alongside contemporary and outsider artists.

Marice Cumber, Accumulate
Marice set up Accumulate in 2013 to bring together and use creative skills to empower and provide positive experiences for young people who are affected by homelessness and living in hostels or temporary accommodation in London. Accumulate delivers its creative workshops in collaboration with major cultural organisations and also fundraises for scholarships so that its participants can progress their creative education at university. Previously, Marice has set up and delivered creative business courses in prisons and developed business support programmes for creative students and graduates.

Ali Eisa, Public Programme Manager (Education), Autograph
Ali is an artist and educator. He coordinates the education programme at Autograph, producing interactive workshops and events for diverse audience to engage with Autograph’s exhibitions and photographic archive. 
He is a visual artist who exhibits nationally and internationally, and has a background in social circus, youth arts and youth work.

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Dr Errol Francis, Chief Executive, Culture&
Errol is an artist, curator and former mental health activist. He was formerly head of arts at the Mental Health foundation and Director of the Anxiety Arts Festival 2014 and consultant to the Big Anxiety Festival, Sydney 2017. He is currently chief executive of Culture& and Director of the curatorial group PS/Y and visiting professor in arts and health at the University of London.

David Hevey, Director, Shape Arts
Shape Arts makes break out cultural content reaching millions through several projects – Unlimited, NDACA, Adam Reynolds Memorial Bursary and much more – all based on the premise of removing barriers to creative careers for disabled, diverse and different people. In his own right as a creative leader, Shape CEO David Hevey has a track record of making his innovative content through film, television, media and the arts which explores how outsiders challenging barriers can create new content which also plays to millions. See www.davidhevey.com

Charlotte Hollinshead, Associate Artist, ActionSpace
Charlotte specialises in developing participatory film and installation arts projects. At ActionSpace, she has led the Voltaire Studio since 1998 and project manages the Voltaire Studio artists’ off site projects including Part of It, Watch This Space and solo commissions and exhibitions.  

Jessica Horn, Programme Director, African Women’s Development Fund
Jessica Horn is Programme Director for the African Women’s Development Fund based in Accra, Ghana. She has worked for almost two decades as a feminist analyst and technical advisor with a focus on politics and practices around bodies, movements, funding and feminist futures in Africa and globally.  A published poet, Jessica hosts and facilitates initiatives that promote feminist voice, human rights and revolutionary love through the arts.

Adrian Jackson, Artistic Director, Cardboard Citizens
Adrian Jackson is the Artistic Director of Cardboard Citizens, a theatre company working particularly with homeless people, which he founded in 1991 whilst working for London Bubble. He has directed over 30 productions for Cardboard Citizens, including Pericles and Timon of Athens, co-produced with the Royal Shakespeare Company, The Beggar’s Opera (with ENO), The Lower Depths (with London Bubble) and the Evening Standard award-winning Mincemeat. He was awarded an MBE in the 2018 New Years Honours.

Lucy Keany, Public Programme Manager (Projects and Events), Autograph
At Autograph, Lucy programmes events and creative activities for a wide range of audiences. She has worked in a variety of creative programming roles for visual arts organisations in both Scotland and London. Previously, she was the events curator at Edinburgh Art Festival and then went onto work for the Glasgow-based photography gallery Street Level Photoworks.

Mark Lawrence, resident artist at ActionSpace
Mark has developed an extensive body of art work from paintings, drawings, collage and most recently with sculpture and film. His practice is highly experimental as Mark is keen to try his hand at many varied processes. He is currently developing a series of immersive film projection works, using himself and his mixed media artworks as props to explore movement, shadow and reflection.

Deborah Williams, CEO, The Creative Diversity Network
The Creative Diversity Network (CDN) brings together organisations across the UK television industry to promote, celebrate and share good practice around the diversity agenda. Deborah is responsible for the strategic direction of CDN, delivering all aspects of the organisation’s activities, including the ground-breaking Diamond diversity monitoring scheme, diversity talent databases, online resources and the CDN awards.

Deborah is an award winning actor, as well as being a writer and theatre maker with 20 years’ experience in creating and presenting distinctive, high quality work that challenges ideas of difference and diversity.

Workshops with Action space Artists

On both days of the conference, attendees will take part in workshops lead by artists working in ActionSpace's studios. ActionSpace supports artists with learning disabilities, and creates create innovative projects for people with learning disabilities to engage with the visual arts.

On 15 April, Linda Bell will invite participants to collaborate in her process of threading, stretching and binding around and onto a wooden structure.

On 16 April, Mark Lawrence will use reflective materials and film projections, inviting participants to experiment with reflections, colour and light.


Tickets are for both days of the conference, 9:30am - 5pm at Autograph's gallery in Shoreditch, London. 

Lunch and refreshments are included on both days. 


Accumulate: Youth Culture

The conference will take place in a pop-up of work by young people affected by homelessness


10 free tickets to this event are available for artist educators

Read more on our blog about how to apply

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 endeavour to make this conference as accessible as possible. If you have interpretation or access needs, please contact us in advance at ali@autograph-abp.co.uk or 020 7749 9200

Visit Us


This is the second Rights in Focus Conference to be held by Autograph. It is curated at Autograph by Lucy Keany, Public Programme Manager (Events and Projects), and Ali Eisa, Public Programme Manager (Education).


Tickets to this event can be purchased on this webpage, on Eventbrite, by phoning Autograph at 020 7729 9200, or by emailing info@autograph-abp.co.uk. Refunds can be requested up to one week before the event starts. Tickets are for both days of the conference, single-day tickets are not available. Autograph's events are popular and often sell out, we recommend booking in advance.

Photography / filming at this event

Photography and filming will take place at this event. If you do not wish to be photographed or filmed, please let a member of staff know.


Supported using public funding by Arts Council Englane

Images, from top: 1 and 6) Canva(s) project, 2016 - 2017. 2 and 3) 2018 Rights in Focus Conference at Autograph, London. Photographs by Jalaikon. 5) Accumulate workshop at Autograph, London. Photographs by Sabela Peinado @sabela_street_photo. 6) Rivington Place, home of Autograph. Photograph by Zoe Maxwell.