The Role of Visual Arts Organisations in the British Black Arts Movement in the Midlands

The AHRC Networking Grant explores the legacy of the Black Arts Movement (BAM) in the Midlands and the understudied role of the visual arts institutions in supporting the movement in the 1980s and today. This network also aims to understand how the 1980s movement’s motivations can provide models for the sector today, in supporting, promoting and showing Black curators and artists.


• To foster research co-operation on Black studies, art and curation between Coventry University, University of the Arts London, visual arts organisations and cultural practitioners in the region;

• To raise awareness of the unique and pioneering role of the BAM in the Midlands;

• To share and exchange knowledge, specifically: 1) on the history of the BAM, its networks, the role of the visual arts institutions, the individuals involved; 2) on the histories of Black curation in the Midlands and the UK; 3) on the contemporary challenges for Black curators and artists in the region;

• To act as a catalyst to increase these institutions’ knowledge about their contribution to the movement.


• Two workshops at the visual arts organisations with the project stakeholders and practitioners to learn about the role of visual arts institutions in the BAM in the Midlands and new strategies to support Black practitioners.

• Public event for academic and non-academic audience, at the visual arts organisations with stakeholders, to raise awareness of this legacy.

• Online publication consisting in bi-monthly posts during the funded-period on the history of the BAM, its presence in the Midlands, associated exhibitions and events. The website also promotes the network events and relevant initiatives; publishes accounts from project’s participants; shares the event and workshops’ documentation; and serves as archive of the project;

• Advocacy document to collate the recommendations for a more supportive sector;

• Two academic papers.


Principal Investigator: Prof. Dr Carolina Rito

Co-Investigator: Prof. Dr Paul Goodwin


• Herbert Gallery and Museum

• New Art Exchange

• Nottingham Contemporary

• Wolverhampton Gallery

• Steering Group: Shaheen Merali, Dr Ian Sergeant, Marlene Smith, Dr Sylvia Theuri.

Related Projects

• Black Arts Movement in Coventry 2021

• PhDs at Centre for Arts, Memory and Communities

• Commonwealth Games 2022 Blk Research Group Commission

• Coventry Biennial Blk Art Day

• Critical Practices Talks on the BAMC