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

• 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


Shani Ali, Founder, Room 13 Hareclive

Katriona Beales, Artist

Linda Bell, Resident Artist, ActionSpace

Sheryll Catto, Co-Director, ActionSpace

Marice Cumber, Founder, 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

Mark Lawrence, Resident Artist, ActionSpace

Ben Platts-Mills, Development Director, Headway East London, and author

Denise Rose, Project Director, Mouth That Roars

Deborah Williams, Artist

Akhera Williams, Artist

Talks and keynotes

Revolutionary Love in Times of War: African Feminist Artivism

Jessica Horn , African Women’s Development Fund

From Here to There: Forging New Working Models for Cultural Capital
Deborah Williams, Artist

Creativity, Rights and How It’s Always a Campaign
David Hevey, Shape Arts

Art by Right, by Law or by Demand? Is the Legal Concept of Rights Compatible with Arts Practice?
Dr Errol Francis, Culture&

Making Law with Art: How Cardboard Citizens used Theatre to Feed into Legislation
Adrian Jackson, Cardboard Citizens


Rights & Access: Young People at the Heart of Cultural Life

Marice Cumber, Accumulate
Shani Ali, Room13 Hareclive
Denise Rose, Mouth That Roars
Akhera Williams, Artist

Arts Practice in Care Settings
Kate Pleydell, Imperial Health Charity
Ben Mills, Headway East London
Katriona Beales, Artist

Creating the Bigger Picture
Sheryll Cato, Action Space
Charlotte Hollinshead, Action Space

About the speakers and artists

Shani Ali, Founder, Room 13 Hareclive
Shani Ali is a socially engaged, multi-disciplinary artist whose work is collaborative and collective. Shani Ali co-founded Room 13 Hareclive in 2003 with fellow artist Paul Bradley: an independent artists’ studio run by children and adults working together, based in a primary school on the Hartcliffe estate in south Bristol. Fifteen years later, Room 13 Hareclive is still going strong: a creative hub where transformations – materials, ideas, personal and community – take place; a centre of expertise around children, creativity, collaboration and voice; and one of the oldest, most established Room 13 spaces in the world.

Katriona Beales, Artist
Katriona is a London-based sculptor who makes digital artefacts, moving image and installation. Her work responds to the experience of slipping between of ine and online worlds, information overload, online behavioural addictions, experiences of the technological sublime and notions of a Digital Baroque. Katriona’s interdisciplinary project ‘Are we all addicts now?’ was supported by The Wellcome Trust and Arts Council England and was shown at Further eld, London in 2017. In 2018 she exhibited new commissions at theV&A and Science Gallery London.Alongside her art practice Katriona has extensive experience delivering workshops and projects with children and young people.She was anArtistWorkshop Leader atTate 2013-14 and was lead artist on South London Gallery’s Supersmashers programme 2013-15. Katriona received an MA from Chelsea College of Arts and has an artist pro le on Read More

Linda Bell Resident Artist, ActionSpace
Linda Bell has been a resident artist at the ActionSpace South London Studio since 1999. Linda creates interactive artworks, which develop through her experimental and playful approach to exploring materials, movement and interaction. Linda frequently collaborates whilst creating work, exploring the relationship between herself, her work and the viewer or collaborator.The quality and unique nature of her interactive artwork is widely recognised. Linda’s work has is frequently selected for group exhibitions alongside other contemporary and outsider artists. tists/linda-bell/

Sheryll Catto, Co-Director, ActionSpace
Sheryll Catto is Co-Director of ActionSpace, a London-based visual arts organisation that supports artists with learning disabilities and creates innovative projects for people with learning disabilities to engage with the visual arts. Sheryll joined ActionSpace 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 artists with learning disabilities with the same opportunities as their peers in the contemporary visual arts sector.

Marice Cumber, Founder, 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. www.

Ali Eisa, Public Programme Manager (Education), Autograph
Ali is an artist and educator. He coordinates the education programme at Autograph, producing 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. www.

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 lm, television, media and the arts which explores how outsiders challenging barriers can create new content which also plays to millions.

Charlotte Hollinshead, Associate Artist, ActionSpace
Charlotte Hollinshead has led the ActionSpace South London Studio at StudioVoltaire for over 20 years, Charlotte supports artists with complex needs to develop their individual arts practice and delivers an extensive range of commissions, projects, events and exhibitions including Stretch and Squeeze atThe Royal Festival Hall and Nnena Kalu’s solo exhibition for the Glasgow International Arts Festival 2018. Charlotte manages ActionSpace’s innovative participatory programme, including Part of It, WatchThis Space andTate Exchange, where ActionSpace artists create ambitious, interactive installations, artworks and live art happenings, inviting participants to create alongside them and share their creative processes. Charlotte also has her own inclusive participatory practice developing sculptural works and installations for outdoor public events. 

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 & 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. www.

Mark Lawrence, Resident Artist, ActionSpace Mark Lawrence has been a resident artist at ActionSpace since 2014. Mark has developed an extensive body of artwork, from paintings, drawings, collage and most recently with sculpture, lm and projection. 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 lm projection works, using himself and his mixed media artworks as props to explore movement, shadow and reflection. tists/mark-lawrence/

Ben Platts-Mills, Development Director, Headway East London, and author Ben has worked with people with learning disabilities, the neuro-diverse community and people with neurological changes caused by injury in adulthood. Stories of his work with survivors of brain injury are recorded in a book, Tell Me the Planets, published by Penguin last year. He is interested in the power of witness, in the pragmatics of inclusion, and in art practice as a means of redefining value.

Kate Pleydell, Arts Engagement Manager, Imperial Health Charity
Kate runs Imperial Health Charity’s audience engagement programme, looking at how art can be used as a tool in healthcare environments.The programme encompasses visual art, music, dance, drama and gardening for patients and staff across the Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, London.The programme also has an ongoing artist residency scheme, inviting artists to work with particular patient groups in collaboration with galleries such as The Showroom and Serpentine Galleries.

Denise Rose, Project Director, Mouth That Roars
Denise Rose has been running Mouth That Roars (MTR) for over twenty one years. She previously trained as a youth worker and completed her MA in children, youth and international development. She has worked in Television Production, during which time she witnessed firsthand the lack of opportunities and misrepresentation of young people living in marginalised communities and lack of diversity. Denise set up MTR to enable young people to gain access to media and become the makers of their own unique stories. MTR operates a youth media studio in East London but has also facilitated many lm making projects with marginalised children and young people globally - in Iran, Kurdistan, Morocco, India and Palestine.These lms have been used to raise cultural awareness and as tools to explore human rights and responsibilities

Deborah Williams, Artist
Deborah’s career started in the mid-1980s with her first theatre company. She moved toThe Pleasance in Edinburgh and became the rst manager at Pleasance Islington.She was an actor with GraeaeTheatre Company,worked with the London disability arts forum,and taught stage management at the Webber Douglas Drama School. In 1999 she started Reality Productions and in 2008 went to Rich Mix where she was responsible for the one day arts and activism event 6 Billion Ways. Deborah has worked with Arts Council England, leading on equality analysis and the introduction of the Creative Case for Diversity, and at the British Film Institute, leading on diversity and creating the BFI Diversity Standards. Currently she is CEO of Creative Diversity Network. She travels around the world sharing her process and experiences on how equality, diversity and inclusion can lead change and transform the creative and cultural industries.

Akhera Williams, Artist
Akhera Williams is a young speaker, artist and activist who has run her own campaign as part of the Advocacy academy to make the histories of a range of POC identities accessible within the secondary curriculum. She is an Art Assassin at the South London Gallery (a youth art group who make art to respond to society), and has worked with Consented (A magazine on race, gender, class and systematic change). She’s interested in global politics and race, climate justice, intersectional feminism, and wants young people to be more conscious of building a fair and just world.

Workshops with Actionspace 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 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 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. 4) Mark Lawrence in the studio, ActionSpace 5) Accumulate workshop at Autograph, London. Photographs by Sabela Peinado @sabela_street_photo. 7) Rivington Place, home of Autograph. Photograph by Zoe Maxwell.