Written by Annette Griffith, Journalist and diversity activist. Image credits: SUARTS
Following on from Diversity Matters Awareness Week in April, which was funded by the Teaching and Learning Exchange’s Student-Staff Collaboration Fund, Diversity Matters Exhibit followed in suit to continue the discourse around race matters – this time by fusing music and art.
Diversity is a topic that many people find difficult to tackle, but when a student leaves home to begin their University education, they can start to feel marginalized for many reasons, including their race. One UAL student has felt the need to spread the word on the issues facing the BAME community in education by single-handedly trying to champion the message for building awareness, as well as helping communities around the world.
Journalism student Kai Lutterodt who studies at the University of Arts in London, set up the awareness platform Diversity Matters to focus on the issues of race and BAME representation in the Arts and Media, Education and Work Environments. Her journey started when she found a lack of representation in her lecturers. She states ‘up until very recently there wasn’t anyone teaching who looked like me.’ Wanting to make a difference, Kai first became active member of the student body through her Students Union role as President of the UAL African Caribbean Society, organising events that included talks by BAME industry professionals. She said:
‘The word diversity covers a lot of issues, but I wanted to concentrate on race, as I feel that people are happy to talk about diversity, but can be more reluctant to talk about the issues surrounding race.’
After the success of Diversity Matters Awareness Week, Kai has since gone onto set up Diversity Matters as a student-lead platform to make a big difference beyond education, and recently curated and launched an art exhibition Diversity Matters Exhibit at UAL with contributions from a diverse group of students and artists. Diversity Matters Exhibit was also a fundraising collaboration between Kai’s art workshop platform Art4Change, which aims to work with marginalised communities around the world and Pianist Without Borders artist Fabio Tedde. The theme of music was highlighted in the exhibition beautifully with a show-stopping piece of art in the form of a piano decorated by Italian artist Riccardo Girardi.
Professor Susan Orr, UAL’s Dean of Learning and Teaching Enhancement said:
‘I’m chuffed to bits to be linked to this project. The work is wonderful’
Deputy Vice Chancellor and Race Champion for UAL, Stephen Reid was full admiration for Kai and feels that Universities need to help individuals in order to improve diversity, but also that:
‘Institutions need to recognise their own problems, the processes, practices and procedures that may in themselves not be aiding the progression of BAME individuals.’
He summed up the night as being ‘such an achievement for Kai, who has worked so hard to raise the issue of diversity in the university.’