Saad-Eddine Said

Listen to this episode of Culture Plan B here.

DAVID JUBB: Welcome to Culture Plan B. I’m David Jubb and this is the fifth and penultimate episode of this series in which I will not be interviewing people with six figure salaries from our country’s best funded cultural institutions. Instead, Culture Plan B will be meeting with artists and communities who create culture outside big cultural institutions, like most people do.

Today, I’m lucky to get to talk with Saad-Eddine Said who is director of Home in Slough. Saad is one of the kindest and most inspirational people I know who works in the cultural sector. In this episode, we get to hear about his recent work during COVID and his brilliant ideas about how we can all make a difference to make change in the cultural sector.

Now, the government has announced more details of its 1.57 billion rescue package for the cultural sector, we can see that 500 million goes to film and TV production, while 880 million goes to a new cultural recovery fund for arts and heritage organizations. There have been concerns about the priority being given to what the Secretary of State for culture has called ‘The Crown Jewels’, and the chair of the new panel for the cultural recovery fund? That’s right. It’s going to be the chair of the Royal National Theatre, Damon Buffini, you just couldn’t make it up. I also noted the DCMS announcement states that smaller organizations must show how they benefit their local community and area. Well, that’s great, isn’t it? Tell me, what is it about larger organizations, which makes them exempt from an expectation that they will benefit their local community and area? In a single sentence, this seems to sum up so much of what is wrong with the way we structure funding for arts and culture.

But what might the cultural recovery fund have looked like if someone like Saad had been at the top of Oliver Dowden’s list of people to talk with? Saad could have helped Oliver understand that despite government funding priorities over recent decades, to sustain large national institutions at all costs and despite a minority of arts funding reaching independent artists and communities, it is still those same artists and communities who are responsible for the big leaps forward in contemporary culture. Yes, it’s true that new artistic movements of our time have not been cooked up by big, well funded cultural institutions. They are in fact created by independent artists and communities. And yes, the new cultural recovery fund manages to completely ignore this fact. The question is now whether some or all of those organizations in receipt of recovery funding can be persuaded to share their resources with artists and communities. If they are smart, they will realize that it will benefit them in the long run.

So there is currently talk of a second series of Culture Plan B, so if you have ideas for episodes, including the idea of creating your own episode, then just get in touch with us at . We want to introduce visual description for our speakers and in future episodes I will do this at the start of interviews. For this episode I asked Saad to send me a description of himself. He says “I am tall, 1 meter 80. I am fairly slim, brown. I have long black curly hair. I have a short beard and brown eyes. My name is David and I’m six foot tall, white skinned, I wear a hat and have no hair except for an even coat of stubble around my head. Today I’m wearing a perplexed expression after reading the DCFS website this morning. I hope you enjoy hearing from Saad.

Music introduction – Don’t Tell Me by Conrad Murray and BAC Beatbox Academy “Don’t tell me what to be, Don’t tell me how to speak, Don’t tell me how to love, Don’t tell me how to feel, Don’t tell me how to do, Don’t tell me how to think, Don’t tell me how to be, Don’t tell me how to think, it will be ok if we agree to disagree, it will be ok”

DAVID JUBB: Hello, Saad, how are you today?

SAAD-EDDINE SAID: I’m very good and thank you for having me with you.

DAVID JUBB: Oh no, thank you for joining us. I’m really privileged and excited. I’m a huge fan of you. I’m a huge fan of your approach and your work. So you’re currently director for Home in Slough, which supports exhibitions, workshops, performances across Slough and one of the many things I think that’s interesting about Home from my point of view is that he’s actually a consortium of cultural and community organizations who work together across the town. And over this last year, you’ve been co-creating artwork, slideshows, co-programming with community groups, and it would actually be great in our conversation to hear – to hear more about what you’re thinking in terms of the future for Home in Slough as well as how you’ve adapted during this pandemic. Y our background prior to being with Home was that you developed the idea of city takeovers indeed your latest iteration of a city takeover took place in London, where young people and communities got to take over some of London’s biggest cultural institutions. Y ou were artistic director of Battersea Arts Centre where we previously connected, you’ve worked with the participatory theatre company Spare Tyre and before coming to the UK, you were founder and Co-Artistic Director of Terre Sans Frontiere in Morocco in which you created an extraordinary series of residences that brought artists together from different countries to learn from each other, and also to create long lasting connections. So for me, there’s a clear sense and interest in your work, which is about which is about change, changing perceptions, changing cultural institutions, and changing people’s lives through creative interventions and opportunities. And it will be good to talk more about how you think we need to change the cultural sector. Maybe you could start by telling us a little bit about your work with home in Slough. I know you only joined the organization at the end of 2019. But perhaps you could tell us about some of the communities you work with, perhaps about what you’ve been doing during the pandemic and also you’re thinking about the future. So yeah, be great to hear from you.

SAAD-EDDINE SAID: Thank you, David. This is such a great introduction. Luckily enough, it’s recorded so I can copy it and use it for the future. It was such an interesting time for me to join Home Slough. Slough is such an interesting place and obviously has a lot of the ingredients that I’m very interested in. First, it’s one of the most diverse towns in the UK, so it offers this really, really unique richness within the people and the cultures and perspectives and visions that they bring to the table. And it’s also a town that is going down through a huge regeneration, so it feels that the future is there to grab. And it feels that there is a huge opportunity for local communities and local organizations to be part of reimagining what that future is. And on another hand, decision makers in the town are really keen for people to participate and redesign on what that future is. So it feels like a really really, really great environment to just make change happen but also have all the right voices to shape what that change is going to look like.

And obviously while starting to work and starting to implement a vision for what role can Home, Slough play in the time we had COVID-19 happen in March, and it was a really really tricky time with a lot of challenges but also a lot of opportunities actually, for people to come together and to have a space for reflection and discussion and conversation about real challenges that are stopping us from building the future that we all want to see for the UK and also beyond.

One thing that is particular about Home, Slough as a CPP, (so we’re part of Creative People and Places) is that we’re also running a venue. So the first thing that we did obviously, like any other venue or theatre is that we have to shut our venue on the high street. And then we kind of have to step back and really reflect on the situation and we felt that what we were facing was going to be a long term challenge. And we very quickly decided that this is going to be a marathon instead of a quick run. And I think that was really, really helpful for us to start looking at – ahead of us, at what is the next three months, what are the next six months? What are the next nine months gonna look like for us? And for all of these challenges we kind of try to again reflect on what are the opportunities that we have now, that we maybe didn’t have before. And one of the things that have kept our attention is Time. We have artists and communities that have a lot more time in their hands and we just started investing in that. Creating coaching and mentoring schemes, creating training online and really looking at ‘phase one’ of our work is just skin and prepare and support communities and creatives who may have like a great ideas but have never have the right time to develop those ideas.

So that was ‘phase one’ and then from that ‘phase one’ will now go into ‘phase two’ where we are having more time on one to one support, to take the dreams and the projects that are written on paper to the next level, where we are now starting to implement some of those projects within our Summer program and then we’re going to take further ones on to different programs later on in the year. All of that comes in the idea of how can Home, Slough support the growth of creative communities and how can we shift our position from investing in product, in outcome to starting to invest in people and communities, and how do we have a really clear picture of where we start a connection and where do we end that connection? Because what’s important for us is that we invest in creative communities, but that those creative communities get into a position where they are completely independent: when they’ll just fly in and they don’t need any support anymore, they know how to run their business plan, they know how to fundraise etc. So, as much as it was an overwhelming three months or four months, it actually was also a really exciting month for me as a creator and for us as an organization, and we’ve been able to achieve quite a lot, but most importantly, is really having the time to invest in the human to human relationship. And I think that will offer us such a great ground going forward.

DAVID JUBB: That sounds amazing. Can I ask you in terms of that shift from a sort of production mindset to more focusing around the kind of process and engagement with communities, what are some of the motivations for you behind that was what are some of the differences? And maybe also what are some of the challenges for you in doing that?

SAAD-EDDINE SAID: For me, what this means is that you’re entering in to a cycle that can be very exciting for the organization itself, because you have a start and end point, and you are also able to visualize in four, ten, fifteen years who within the town or within the city came into the connections with the organization, with the venue, and then started and ended their journey with the venue and started growing and being independent. It’s a way for the organisation to be at the heart of the city or of the town as a factory that builds people who are able to dream and acheive. So this is this is I think where I also see my work as either, as an Artistic Director or Curator or a Creative – is how can I facilitate, how can I play a role of a bridge where, obviously I come with all my skills to the table, and I have the discussions, the creative discussions with the communities etc but I can also support in mapping the strategy of how to go from A to B. But most importantly for me, the cutting point is where we get to a situation and to a position where you don’t need me anymore. And that for me is a cycle of growth where again, we are investing in people and the product becomes just part of the process instead of having the product as the outcome of that relationship.

DAVID JUBB: I get it, yeah, yeah, that makes huge sense. So actually the product the you know, the artwork, the project, the gathering, the moment those things are still happening, but they’re not the kind of fundamental ambition and goal for you and for Home, Slough, the ambition is the forming and shaping and developing of those relationships. The people involved in those relationships are motivated, excited, to bring their own skills bring their own ideas. And then start to begin to create something which is, that is sustainable themselves. So in the last conversation in Culture Plan B, we talked a bit about building things that build other things that it seems It seems like an idea we asked about, yeah: Enabling supporting other people to create and make

SAAD-EDDINE SAID: Yeah, and to illustrate that, and to illustrate that, for example now where I’m working with some just really, really amazing and inspiring members of the Caribbean community, and when we first started that relationship we had a discussion on the first day. And I said, “Okay, so here is the process that we’ll be working with, we’ll be in a relationship and our goal is to kind of break that relationship. It’s to get to a point where you can just fly with your own wings and you don’t need support anymore. So we started for example, since COVID-19, we started with AWS training online or on production, how you write your business plan, etc. We’ve had some one-to-one mentoring and coaching. And after this phase, I work with them to produce a program around the Windrush Day and then now we’re doing quite an exciting project called the ‘G lobal Cooking Theatre’ where we’re bringing different women from the Caribbean community and every Saturday they would come and cook a meal from their childhood with an audience that is joining in zoom, and then they would, it’s a way for them to talk about their culture but using also their creative skills and the session ended by everyone come in to eat the meal together and the chef would wear dresses from a second country and facilitate a discussion about memories and history etc.

If you look at all the strategy that I have with most members of community, we are heading towards the next Windrush celebration for it to be completely led by that. So they would fundraise for it, they would imagine what the program is, and they would run it, they would produce it, etc. So it’s looking at Okay, we’ll start those 12 months by Home, Slough really supporting you, but the the outcome of this is that you’ll be able to lead your own community creatively in a way that you can produce, fundraise, etc.

DAVID JUBB: That’s amazing.

SAAD-EDDINE SAID: And that’s that, in a way is kind of investing in the creativity of the town, for that creativity to be sustainable, and to be in a position that you can just grow with time.

DAVID JUBB: It’s really interesting, in community development that will be described as an asset based model, where you build around the assets that are already existing in communities, you know, the skills, the knowledge, the understanding the lived experience that is already there, and you build that and grow those assets. It’s interesting, because in culture, and certainly in the kind of funded cultural landscape, we tend to work on a deficit model, which is that we look at what communities don’t have, you know, what they don’t have access to, and we create all these kind of policies and ideas around ‘access to arts’, which is based on kind of you must come in and see this stuff, because it’s really, almost like it’s really good for you. Take the spoon, spoon it down at all, you’ll feel better. Y eah, I would say it’s a kind of deficit based model. Whereas what you’re describing is much more one, which recognizes skills, lived experience, ideas, knowledge, and also a desire to just grow and sustain those things rather than come in and join us and get something from this that will help you to feel better or feel a certain way.

SAAD-EDDINE SAID: One of the things that was really, really interesting for me to kind of discover for this period is, so obviously we working a lot with diversity. When I talk about diversity, it’s diversity of gender, culture, social-economic. Yeah, so there is a really wide diversity, that we’re working with and when this period started, we knew and we understood very well, that the main focus now was just to bring food to the house. How can you then start discussions about culture, about things that might sound really, really not important and irrelevant at the moment? But the way we’ve approached it is we started discussions with those communities, asking, what is the cultural emergency? What is the cultural moment that you feel you will miss if you don’t celebrate that. And when you talk about cultural emergency that only makes sense for this specific community. So for example, if you talk to the wider Muslim community, you would know all the cultural emergency is maybe Ramadan and E id. So for them, it’s as important as bringing native food to the house. Y eah, so we started really exploring the subjects from the perspective of the of the communities we were working with, because we just to be really honest with you, David, we didn’t have any answer. We didn’t have any intelligence or any smart thing to bring to the table. And we knew very well that any smart move will not come from us, but we’ll be very much directed by the people we’re working with,

DAVID JUBB: It’s such an inspiring way to work and to think because it just it contrasts somehow in my mind with the general response of the cultural sector, which seemed in that moment to go on to kind of ‘broadcast mode’, you know, what can we broadcast digitally on television, online, in order to get the work that we have created out to people, which just seems to contrast so dramatically in every way to what you’ve just described, which is not to sort of ask people what they need or where they’re at or what their cultural emergency might be.

SAAD-EDDINE SAID: We all are working within some models. And those models, sometimes they do shape the way we can react to situations that are in front of us. And that are, that the reality is there are some brilliant, brilliant people who are working in the cultural industry, for freelancers, creatives, team members, even at the leadership level board members and we are all kind of trying to navigate our way through a system that wasn’t built specifically for today, and it’s really tricky, and it’s really, really challenging and I just been on this occasion, I just want to share with you how overwhelmed I was by the just the amazing response from Cultural Center and from all my colleagues. And I do also understand that the challenges that we’re facing are kind of different. So I want to acknowledge, for example, that one of the things that we didn’t have to face is our business model is not based on selling tickets. So that offered an opportunity to focus on other things that we thought were more important – not to say that we had it easy, we have our own challenges, but they’re just kind of different. But it is really, really tricky to try to make change to navigate within a system that wasn’t built to change, if that makes sense. So your Cultural Plan B, for me was something that is really welcome, especially to have to kind of discuss what if things were different? And also how can we kind of change the paradigm and how can we do that by being all together and not leaving anyone behind us.

DAVID JUBB: When you look at that the current kind of paradigm to use your word, the current shape of the sector, the way that it works, or the observations that you would like to go further with, I guess in terms of when you say, yeah, we’re now in a time where we’re looking to change, but we’re not set up in a system or a structure, which is necessarily encouraging that change. I wonder if you want to say a bit more about that?

SAAD-EDDINE SAID: Before I go to that, I just want to talk about the small experience I had during this four years, which I think really has made me rethink about my previous experience and put it all through the lens of looking at change, and trying to understand how change happens. G renfell was, for me, a huge moment that affected me personally, because there were a lot of Moroccan families in that building, and for me, it came as a as an event when I had specific perception. I really thought that this event would bring a huge national change. But watching what was happening around G renfell, I kind of figured out this idea of, oh maybe we are in a system that actually, even if all of us as individuals want to bring change, maybe there is something in the system and I really wanted to try to understand that. And a big shout out to G emma (Baxter) and G aylene (G ould) and the team who is working a step change in the National Theatre for pushing me to explore much further and supporting me to go to South Korea when I had the previous experience around change. And South Korea has gone through a huge, not revolution – It was an evolution – It was a moment where all the communities around the nation came out to the streets and shouted that they want change and that change happened in the most amazing and inspiring way and I just wanted to kind of try and understand, when was that coming? And is there a cycle, and to don’t go too much on this subject, but what I’ve understood from that is for change to happen, you need an event, an event that’s so important that you can’t do things the same way anymore. So that’s the first thing that triggers change. And then you kind of need to answer, why are we changing? How are we changing? And what are we doing to make that change happen? Because the reality on the reflection, again, about this last four or five years, I think I’ve witnessed that major events happening in the UK. It was the first one around Brexit and then the cultural sector, after Brexit started asking themselves, what can we do with migrants? What can we do with all of these people that are coming and maybe they’re not feeling that there is something around accessibility? And you have all these amazing conversations. Then we had something around G renfell and there were again, amazing conversations and then we have the environmental crisis and now COVID and the Black Lives Matter. And he feels that we are stuck in a cycle where we are led by change. And we’re not leading change. And from what I’m hearing is the – we would all love the cultural sector to start leading change, instead of responding to change after the trend and then not having the capacity to take ideas to action. And what I’m seeing now is that is a really fantastic response in terms of how do we make a change, and I don’t think we need any more consultations. We have a wealth of amazing ideas that are just on Twitter, proposed by amazing and inspiring people who actually can take the ideas to action. So we have that and we have different hows and my contribution to this how is I would love to see venues that are led by people. I love to see venues that are really accountable to the community. And you can see all of these answers and all of these answers are tackling governance, are tackling the business model, on tackling accountability, diversity, etc. So I think there is enough work there to start actioning. And I guess my contribution to that is the question, okay, how can we support action in this? As I would really support a hyper local approach. And for example, if anyone has come with any great idea, we are today, in a situation where there is an opportunity for venues to listen, and venues do want change. And maybe sometimes they are struggling with that.

So if you’re a creative, if you’re an artist, if you’re a creative community, and you have all of these brilliant ideas, just contact the venue in your neighborhood. Have those discussions with them. Ask the questions, and have those conversations. I don’t know if all the venues will be open to have that, but I am certain that some will have those conversations. I’ve seen Artistic Directors retweeting some of these propositions, I’ve seen some venues really being supportive. So let’s start those discussions and let’s actually start to change from a hyper local perspective so that we have the help on our side.

Then, why do we want to change? Well I think that’s something that we can all agree about, it’s how do we put it?…It’s a – a kind of shitshow. It’s a shitshow for people who have any people with disability, people who come from minorities, there are so many people who are feeling that they are excluded from the cultural sector. And I think that’s something that everyone can agree on. The government or the partners that we working with: councils, members of community so that that’s great, we are not disagreeing about the why. And what I am kind of trying to reflect today and type of mumbling around but idea is around, Okay, well, we have the why, we have the how, but what are we trying to change? And I think in exploring this ‘what’ that we may be able to come up with some policies that would support us to achieve the ‘how’. And again, as I said, I’m kind of mumbling. I don’t really have an answer to this question. But where my mind is at the moment is maybe there is something about the relationship we have with communities. At the moment, we are doing brilliantly to bring on to actually start bringing communities to be part of conversations. Yeah. And we are brainstorming them and we’re having more and more discussions, and we were really trying to explore that. But I think that it would be more, not more interesting, but equally interesting to also explore how to also make communities part of the ecology. Instead of just having discussions with them, how can they also be a key player within the ecology within We’re funded within how the power dynamics are distributed. And one of the ideas that is growing more and more in my mind is what would it look like if we work with a central government to explore an idea of tax relief, and our tax relief that would maybe give to each community member in the UK the possibility to take 10 pounds, 20 pounds from their taxes to contribute directly within artists in their neighborhood. And you can imagine that, I don’t know let’s let’s just imagine Brixton and maybe Brixton is a neighborhood, has maybe more than 100,000 people living in Brixton? And you can imagine if you had the opportunity that each member could maybe give every year, a 10 pound that they can take out of those taxes to contribute directly to artists, where you can directly see that artists are starting to not to fundraise on the from the council and from the sponsors. But are also starting to look at that as a revenue opportunity that will strengthen that direct relationship between communities and artists and something like this may support the brilliant idea that Conrad (Murray) for example proposed. Because you can imagine if someone like Conrad could fund the race, and have with his project 1000 residents that are backing this idea, this project, then you already are changing the power dynamics when you come to the venue, you’ve come in not only with the project, but also with the audience. And I think something like that will create a direct relationship where community members are directly investing in the art, not in venues, but in the artists and creatives. And communities are also able to let’s say, this year, they will maybe bring 10 artists that will save for a year within that community but the community is also able to shape and to curate and to support and you’ll have a better representation.

DAVID JUBB: This is amazing. I’m going to stop you because you’ve just come up with two extraordinary ideas, which I feel like both sort of lightbulb moments for me, but I just want to pause and capture them a bit and just explore the both a bit more. So you’ve kind of completely reshaped to reimagine the way arts and culture funding works in the country with with a really exciting idea around people spending power, and that would genuinely put resources in the hands of communities to be able to commission select, develop artists, organizations in their community, I think that’s very interesting, because it’s been various conversations in Culture Plan B and elsewhere about the sort of de-centralization of funding and that, what you’ve described, takes that kind of, to an nth degree, if you like, to an extraordinary degree of actually making sure that that sits with people, but also we should come back to that but you’ve also talked about which was a huge penny-drop-moment for me, which is how to enact change. How do we make change happen? And, and yeah, like you, I’ve always thought there are there are lots of ideas. There are loads of amazing ideas out there. I’ve always thought about TE D Talks, though, you know, they’re about 90,000, probably by now. 100,000 TE D Talks online, all of them amazing, extraordinary ideas. It’s like, surely we have all the ideas of how to innovate, how to change how to make things better. But actually, the log jam seems to be, you know, have all of those ideas been delivered to you know, are we making those things happen? And I, I totally support what you’re saying about the cultural sector, which is that there are so many good ways of working and there are great examples of companies that are doing that.

The thing that you said, which I thought was just so profoundly brilliant was is if we want to make those things happen, let’s make them happen in our local community. Because actually, that is an area where each of us has kind of locus has a connection has an ability, as a voter, as a neighbor, as a

resident, as a community member has an opportunity to try and make those changes happen. And I think actually, when I think about the most extraordinary companies that are leading change, it is perhaps then therefore unsurprising that they are, you know, one of the strands that is consistent across those companies is that they are developing profoundly work on a local basis. Now, that isn’t to say that that work isn’t world class. And I think that’s often something that people massively misunderstand, when you start talking about local work, they immediately assume somehow that that doesn’t have a relationship to global standards and quality and all that sort of stuff. But, yeh – Well, you know, you know, what they say is the more local, the more global.

SAAD-EDDINE SAID: We all are human beings. And if you think into your locality, any story that is super, super local means that it has authenticity in it. It also has all those emotions and feelings that makes it global. So there is a there is a word that they use in Asia, I’m not sure if it’s really used in Britain, and it’s around the concept of G locality. And that means to me, it’s about the more you local, the more you can reach the world actually. So –

DAVID JUBB: It’s a very powerful idea and it’s an incredibly simple idea as well. And I always think the best ideas are the most simple and straightforward. And it makes me, while, as you were talking, it just immediately made me think about where I live, and the work that is going on around here and how to support that work and how to support change because yeah, there is something and you mentioned to us a bit about the kind of the social media platforms and and the cultural sector which was so good at talking to us. We’re so good at kind of – and Culture Plan B, this podcast series is a great example of, you know, the sector once again, talking to itself. But what you’re saying, which I think is so profoundly brilliant is that take those ideas from those conversations where we are all talking to ourselves. And there’s so many great ideas. And I looked at about half a dozen of them this morning on social media. And thought ‘Wow, that’s brilliant. That’s great. That’s great.’ But rather than just thinking, ‘Wow, that’s brilliant. That’s great. That’s great.’ actually think, Okay, how do we, how do we do that here? What’s our version of that? How do we how to recreate that here? And that feels, that feels very exciting to me.

SAAD-EDDINE SAID: And then and then the reality is, is one of the really, really exciting things about the UK is it’s a really diverse country. And then maybe the solution is not one model, it’s there is a diversity of models that are really not only responsive to their locality, but can also change with time. And coming back to just the idea of bringing the community to be part of the ecology. I think the idea is that we’re inviting someone else to sit at the table, rather than destroying the table and building a different one, because as I said, for me, what’s really key is that we all are going through that journey. I know any idea comes with a lot of complexities, but in my mind something like the community contributing, it could it could even be vouchers to artists that then can bring to the art council to get that money out. And I think the essence of that idea is, how do we bring the community from just taking part of conversations to be an active player within their ecology.

DAVID JUBB: So look, that’s awesome, and is exciting. So let me throw a challenge at it now. Let me see if we can, if we can, yeah, to try and talk about the reality of how complex it is to make that happen. Because we know there are companies around the country. Y ou guys in Slough, Slung Low in Leeds, Knowle West Media Center in South Bristol and I could list many others that are doing that and that are doing extraordinary work. And interestingly have reacted and responded during the pandemic, in very immediate ways, that kind of ways that you discussed earlier.

But let’s be honest, there’s 1.57 billion pounds, which has been just awarded by Secretary state for culture, Oliver Dowden to ‘The Crown Jewels’ to use his words or perhaps to be a bit less prejorative to preserve the cultural institutions of this country. And so the reality is, is that the cultural sector is made up of giant players, cultural institutions, which I think I would be as bold to say that do not work in the ways that you have just described. And, as you say, many are sort of showing a willingness and an openness to to change. And of course, many do do great work already, however much that may be at the fringes of their own organization. So let’s be honest, how do – when you have that insightful, clear thinking about, let’s take these brilliant ideas for democratizing culture for change and lets implement locally, because that’s how we can have the greatest locus and the most impact of actually making that change happen. Does it then matter that there are, you know that the mainstream of the cultural sector is not doing that, does it matter that the 1.57 billion pounds is largely going to support the largest cultural and national organizations which are not doing that does that mean-?

SAAD-EDDINE SAID: It matters. I think it matters. What doesn’t matter is that we have venues that are just doing that. For me, that doesn’t matter because I am a really great supporter of diversity. It won’t be players that may feel inaccessible to us, but at the same time, we want venues that are working directly with communities. So we want doors that can open and I don’t think it’s realistic that all doors will open. But this this is really key to also the success of the British culture even around the world. But for me, does not matter that all venues are following the same model or have communities at the center, as long as we have some in the mix. It does matter that the 1.57 billion would go to ‘The Crown Jewels’ in the country. And why it matters for me is because the definition of the government about what crown jewels are, is very different from my own definition. My own definition is a group of ‘Crown Jewels’ are the freelancers, creatives and all the people who are on the ground. And I do disagree about the approach that money will save venues. Money will take venues out of the store, and that’s a really short term planning and short term strategy. The one that will save venues today is the people, we would say venue. It’s the freelancers. It’s the communities, audiences. And you know, it’s all of those people who are actually making the work. And in reality, the central job of a venue is to facilitate between a service provider, which are all of these beautiful people, and the client, which is the customer. So the fact that all of this money is invested only, and I hope it doesn’t sound pejorative, it’s not at all, but let’s call it the middleman. If all the money comes just to the middleman, that is a huge issue, and we will see impact in the next decade. The reality is that today we’ve actually done a lot of efforts for generations to get to where we are today, and we’re not in a perfect situation. But there has been progress, and that progress took years and years and took a lot of sacrifices from so many people. And now in less than a second, we can lose that and end up in a worse situation. Because if we are looking ahead, David, we have two choices. It’s either we’re gonna end up in a worse situation, or in a better situation, there is no in between. I think we should fight really, really hard to make the case to the government about how this money is going to be distributed. I for me, I really, really do think that most of it should support the people who are making the work. The people who are reimagining the impossible, reimagining how a venue can start to be accessible. It’s the amazing work that Touretteshero did when she came and under your leadership and the amazing work that the team at BAC did, to reimagine how BAC can start becoming a relaxed venue. It’s all of those people who are changing the impossible to start being positive It’s those people that need for me to be supported. And yeah, we really, really need to be careful about the next steps. And I would I want to shout out to all of these ‘Crown Jewels’ or whatever they’re called, if they do receive that money to be very, very careful on how that money is going to be distributed and where will it go? And if the government and if we fail to have a discussion with the government and for the government to not understand that this money needs to support the ground, and if it goes to ‘The Crown Jewels’, then we need to start a discussion with those venues to understand how this money is going to expand.

But I am I’m very anxious, David and I’m I am fortunate enough to manage the situation today where I have a job in quite secure, but I’m on the phone every single day with people who are feeling really anxious, who are at the edge of leaving this industry, and may never come back to it. We’re losing talent today. It’s even bigger than losing talent, what we are losing is we’re losing passion, and we’ll losing belief. And that I think is really tricky.

DAVID JUBB: Yeah. Looking at it pessimistically if, if the Department of Culture, Media and Sport right the guidelines as well for the 1.57 billion and Arts Council, as I say might try with a lottery cash to plug up gap with freelancers but obviously you know lottery cash, I can’t remember how much it is they’ve announced between now and April, it may be something like £60 million, which in E ngland, obviously, is spread across thousands and thousands and thousands of practitioners, is avery different amount of money to 1.57 billion, 1570 million is a very different figure to 60 million, and however much they might try to kind of support the freelancers in those, and as you say the actual ‘Crown Jewels’ of the sector and the community groups who actually creates a make culture. Do you think we should try and how do we, what do we do, do we try and write a set of guidelines for those cultural institutions, do we just trust that the 50 biggest cultural institutions in the country will take that money and think, okay how many artists are we going to employ, okay how many community groups are going to engage in actually thinking about the shape of our program do we, or do we need to do something in this moment, do we need to try to intervene in this moment, do we need to try and create an intervention which which actually makes some practical, pragmatic suggestions for actually – Of course we understand that you’ve got to preserve the bricks and mortar of your institution, but actually, this is a moment, not to just think about the productions that you want to build in the future but actually this is a moment to reach out and connect with communities and reach out and connect with 10s of thousands of freelancers and to support them.

SAAD-EDDINE SAID: When I’m when I’m thinking about that, I’m really not thinking about trust. Trust for me is irrelevant, what’s relevant is to understand what we as human beings we see things from our own perspective. And what we want to argue is different perspectives to that discussion. And the reality is, if I was leading one of those venues – and if I received the money with all my, my sweet talk, I’ll have the venue, as my objective to say, yeah, that’s my job and that’s the only perspective, that my position will offer me, and it’s with a limited perspective. So yes, I would encourage people to start those discussions with those venues, at a higher level. And I know that for some of these institutions even their team members are starting those discussions, so I would definitely encourage those discussions.

And again, it’s not about trust or not trust but it’s all about adding perspective to that discussion.

DAVID JUBB: Yeah, and to pick up your idea from earlier as well that we should do that locally.


DAVID JUBB: So I should, I should connect with Theatre Royal Plymouth down the road and just see if there’s anything I can do to support them to think about this next stage. Anybody who -1 mean I’m not a very good example because I’m looking after my kids and doing bits and pieces but I guess for freelancers out there that are practicing and working with communities and, and also creating work, that that’s that’s an idea that they should connect with local organizations and be-


DAVID JUBB: And if necessary, buddy up with other people if it helps you to feel-

SAAD-EDDINE SAID: If you can, if you can go for drinking in a small people or assembly in your neighbourhood, which will have some creatives and some- if you can have that, but please do have a discussion with your local venue. And please be kind. It’s really really challenging for venues. It’s not about confrontation, it’s about: how can we add perspective?


SAAD-EDDINE SAID: It’s also about making the point that ‘hey, we’re here, and we have a voice and the venue matters, and it’s a little bit about shifting the perspective that when you come to the venue, you’re not coming as a guest anymore, but the venue is also yours and it’s also about facilitating that space. And I think we have some fantastic people who will be able to lead those discussions with the new leaders.

On another point, David let’s let’s just be realistic. We will not be able to solve everything. And we might fail.


SAAD-EDDINE SAID: But failure is the best step to change. Maybe what we’re doing now we’re taking it through, yeh we’re taking it in the wrong direction. But let’s, always make sure that this will feed into a long lasting change. I do hear the voices coming out from communities and from diverse minorities, etc. And I do know that there are lots of emotions but if you dig through this emotion. There is also a lot of passion. So people today are passionate and they really want change to happen. And sometimes maybe for us, as the people who are part of the cultural industry, maybe there is a time for us just to kind of step back and just support and facilitate instead of implement the change itself. But we do have some really big discussions coming ahead, and they are going to be difficult discussions, and they are going to be very challenging for venues for the people who are working and leading those venues, but equally challenging for the communities and creatives, and maybe there will need to be some support or facilitation. But all of that is to say yes, have those discussions, try to make change in your local neighborhood. And that’s where change will start: is by changing the ground and having both discussions and conversations. And yes, the money is a huge issue. And yes, we are going to see people left out and we are going to have a huge shift, and we are going to lose talent, no matter what we do. But let’s just keep focused on that change let’s keep focused on achieving the hyperlocal, but also figuring out how we can bring communities, and more voices to be part of that ecology and really for me like a well done, and a huge applause to everyone who’s taken part of those discussions and have been for this last three months. It was very challenging and overwhelming. And we have some superheroes in this industry that are most of the time not visible. But we have some really really great people, and it’s not about supporting how do we get intention and ideas to the next level.

I will talk about a very very small example, David-

DAVID JUBB: Please do.

SAAD-EDDINE SAID: And it’s something for, that took me to reflect about myself, and I would like to also open the invitation for all of us to start that reflection with within us. I was looking at a really brilliant conference online. And it brought in some leaders from different venues, and it was chaired by someone also from the industry. And there was a question at the end. What are you ready to give up for change? And there was a consensus around giving up power, and that’s the idea. When we need some self reflection to take ideas to action is that if you rewind, that same online conference to the beginning, one of the people who were present presented themselves as being the chair of three different organizations: That’s where we can make change from tomorrow. If you have too much position of power, then tomorrow, you can step up, or step down from that position. Bring in someone, support them to grow and get the right skills to then lead that space themselves. So there is a lot of change that we can do within ourselves, then the change that we can do in our neighborhood, then the big change that will answer the: what then do we do? Within the nation, what are the policies or the laws that we can implement that will support all of this change to happen?

DAVID JUBB: That’s amazing. Are you concerned in terms of the voices that we are not hearing from in some of these debates? I’m conscious that, that there are communities that are shielding and that are therefore less heard, visible, less present, and potentially will be less invited by cultural organisations when they start to re-open. Y ou mentioned Touretteshero earlier on in this conversation, and just thinking about some of the artists, the makers, the change makers, and actually also the

community members who are excluded from, and perhaps and know and Jess Thom from Touretteshero would say this much more articulately than I can but you know have have always been excluded from cultural institutions on some level, some in a very kind of profound way. And it feels like for all of the sort of work around, you know, accessibility and inclusion which one can say has been extraordinary in terms of the work that artists like, Jess have done but actually also, yeah, in areas of the sector has not made the difference that it should have. But actually it feels like there is a risk in this moment -1 don’t want to be pessimistic, I just want to be real – that there is a risk in this moment that actually the sector which was already really really struggling on inclusion and access, that it’s track record was pretty piss poor in some areas in terms of how it welcomed, engaged, connected with, empowered people, it’s potentially going to get a lot worse for, for before potentially it gets better and I wonder whether you have any reflections on that?

SAAD-EDDINE SAID: Firstly, I don’t think that you’re being pessimistic at all for me, my understanding of this space is as a risk assessment, and as any risk assessment, you have to respond to the worst situation. But if it went south, and this is what we’re going to do. So it’s really not about being pessimistic and everything that for me, we’ve spoken about today is okay if things don’t work, then what do we do, and I think having a robust risk assessment is really good. We could have spent this hour talking about the amazing things that we have and we would have filled more than an hour with that so we do recognize that there are some incredible things that we have and we’re very fortunate, as a country to have quite a strong cultural industry, but what we want to do is to take it to the next step.

So look, David I don’t, I don’t really have an answer to this but what I can share is our approach from Home, Slough. What we did is again very early, we were very conscious about this because we have some people that we work with, who were going to sheild. So all the program that we’ve kind of built, we had the online program, which was connecting with the people who are connected online, and we had an offline program. And with that offline program we were really looking at people who either don’t have access to internet don’t have access to a phone, but also our sheilding. So since maybe the second or third week, after we shut down, we started working with a community of people who are sitting in the houses on an exhibition. So we’d send them out equipment, and every week we have discussions with them. And that exhibition is growing and as soon as they can come, they will take over all the space and have that exhibition and really start to take the stories and their experience from sheilding, and being stuck in their homes to start sharing that with the community, but it also gives them a milestone that is coming in the future and I think it had a great impact on their wellbeing.

So that’s, that’s one of the approaches we have. The second approach that we are having now is to look at, Okay, we’ve been able to involve people in being creatives, now how about the people who just want to be entertained. So for example, we’re starting now to send oh, this really brilliant cello player from Slough. Her name is Leoni, she’s just amazing. And she is going now, outside of care homes to play an hour of music to people who are sheilding inside carehomes. But all of this connections and us being really aware of people who can not access either the venue, or cannot access the program, etc. means that every week, we have discussions with them. And I think those discussions do feed into our thinking and I wouldn’t want to say that I am here as a representative, but I would say that I am here, a little bit aware of, very few challenges that I do keep in my mind. So yes, if you are programming, if you’re having discussions, if you’re looking forward, and you’re looking at reimagining what the future is, again, on an local perspective, and for venues, it should just really be aware about who is not in the room, how can we get in touch with them? And how can they be part of that discussion? We have a lot of resources that can support us through the online, we now have in all of these discussions. So I think that a lot of sheilded people are part of some of the discussions, but we also want to make them part of the group of makers who are responding creatively to what is happening today.

So yes, if anyone is running a venue and we’re doing that constantly and we’re nowhere near where we should be, is to constantly step back and be like, Okay, this group was easy for us to access and to do work with, but who wasn’t easy and who is missing, and having those constant conversations and just being the word that we evoke with time we’re nowhere near perfect. There are so many people that even, we are missing, and we find challenging we don’t have those answers, but trying to keep the conversation, and at least keeping aware of who is missing is a really really important. All those task force, that the government and DCMS brought in are great, when we are pushing forward to have more representation in those discussions. And also, explaining how does your discussion, feed into the decision making?

DAVID JUBB: Saad, you are always an inspiration and incredibly fair minded and you have incredible humility about everything that you’ve said today, so it is such a pleasure to have had this opportunity to catch up with you, spend time with you and hear what you’re doing with Home, Slough, so thank you very much.

SAAD-EDDINE SAID: Thank you so much, David for having me and thank you and thank you to all your brilliant team.

DAVID JUBB: We hope you enjoyed this 5th episode of Culture Plan B. Big thanks to Saad for an inspiring chat. If you want to find out more about Home in Slough then visit .

You can contact us and Culture Plan B with ideas for the podcast by emailing us at . Do follow us on Instagram or Twitter for information on future episodes, or series. This episode was research, presented by David Jubb, the editors and sound mixers are Ian Dickinson and G eorge Dennis. The music is from, ‘Don’t tell me’ by Conrad Murray with Kate (Donnachie) n’ Nate (Native the Cre8ive) from BAC Beatbox Academy, communication support from Antonio Goddard, with thanks to David Bellwood for helping us to make the series more inclusive and accessible, original artwork by John Balsder and the producer and creator is Matthew Dunster.