University of Leeds

Race and the Cultural Industries Conference

Did you make me for a gap in the market
Did I make me for a gap in the market

Extract from the poem ‘Booking Khan Singh Kumar’ by Daljit Nagra

The most unwholesome ideas of ethnic absolutism hold sway and they have been incorporated into the structures of the political economy of funding black arts. The tokenism, patronage and nepotism that have become intrinsic to the commodification of black culture rely absolutely on an absolute sense of ethnic difference

Paul Gilroy (Small Acts, 1993, pg 110-111)

About the keynote speakers

Tanika Gupta, MBE – Playwright and screenwriter

Tanika GuptaTanika Gupta was born in 1963 in Chiswick. She read moden history at Oxford University, then worked for an Asian Women’s Refuge in Manchester and as a community worker in London while beginning to write.

She has written for television, including for East Enders, Grange Hill, A Suitable Boy, The Bill, Crossroads, and adaptations and original radio plays for BBC Radio. She also wrote for the Asian network soap, Silver Street, and the BBC World Service soap, Westway.

Her work for theatre includes many stage plays, including Meet The Mukherjees (2008), performed at Bolton Octagon theatre. Her first stage play was Voices on the Wind, which was workshopped at the National Theatre Studio in 1995. It tells the story of her 19-year-old great uncle, Dinesh Gupta, who was an Indian freedom fighter and was hanged by the British as a terrorist in 1930.

Other plays include: Skeleton (1997) at Soho Theatre; an adaptation of Geeta Mehta’s A River Sutra (Indoza 1997); The Waiting Room (2000) at the National Theatre; a translation of Brecht’s The Good Woman of Setzuan (National Theatre Education 2001); Sanctuary (2002) at the National Theatre; and Inside Out (2002). Her adaptation of Hobson’s Choice (2003) played at the Young Vic; Fragile Land (2003) at Hampstead; and Gladiator Games (2005) at Sheffield Crucible and Stratford East theatres. A group play, Catch (2006), was performed at the Royal Court Theatre, and White Boy (2008) at the National Youth Theatre/Soho.

Her most recent plays include 2 Young 2 LUV, Ananda Sanada and Brood in 2010. In 2011, she adapted Great Expectations for the stage, setting it in 1860s Calcutta.

Tanika Gupta was awarded an MBE in 2008.


Mykaell Riley – Songwriter, producer, music consultant and educator

mykaell rileyMykaell’s career started as a founder member of Grammy award-winning British reggae band Steel Pulse. Over the years he has performed, produced, managed and consulted on many successful artists and their projects. As a professional writer/producer, Mykaell’s work has encompassed television, film and theatre, but mainly albums, over twenty of them – resulting in over eleven UK top twenty positions, and three UK number ones. He is also created The Reggae Philharmonic Orchestra, Britain’s first black orchestra, – which toured, Europe, Japan, Hong Kong, Jamaica. For this project he wrote and produced three albums plus the co-production of a 50min TV documentary. He has also composed for ITV1, 2,3, the BBC 1,2, SKY and Endemol TV.

Mykaell is also Senior Lecturer and Head of Music Production at University of Westminster, where he has set up The Center for Black Music Research (UK). He has worked as an educational consultant and music industry advisor for the Mayor of London, Arts Council England, The British Museum, The Maritime Museum, The V&A, Open University, City University, South Thames College, and is currently external examiner for Leeds College of music/Bradford University.

Amongst his many projects Mykaell is founder of (BMET) Black Music Education and Technology, which focuses on developing music /educational content for the BME community whilst creating new links between higher education and the music industry. In 2004 he produced ‘Dub Sweat And Tears’ a major photographic and multimedia exhibition, featuring 200 images reflecting the last 50 years of black music and culture in the Britain. In 2006 ‘BBMX’ was the first H.E. interactive educational DVD exploring black music in Britain. In 2007 Mykaell produced ‘The UK Value of Jazz Report’, the first national mapping of UK Jazz.











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