Mainstream Partnership’s key aim was to assist artists from Black and Minority Ethnic communities in the East Midlands to increase their income and employment opportunities as professionals in the mainstream arts sector. The organisation also existed to promote the opening up of professional development opportunities to culturally diverse artists, arts organisations and audiences in the East Midlands by its development of active links between sector and non-sector support agencies and Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) groups and individuals. In doing so, it encouraged sustainable transformation in the representation of culturally diverse arts within the creative sector.
The organisation’s key aims were to enhance the sustainability of BME artists, arts managers and arts organisations by providing professional development in the form of training, mentoring and networking opportunities. The activity included support in business planning, legal matters, confidence building, marketing, fundraising and networking.
It began its life in 1999 as a development project housed at Arts Training Central, and became a Regularly Funded Organisation (RFO) of Arts Council England in April 2007. This was in recognition of the strategic importance of the organisation. The organisation produced a regional newsletter, organised regional conferences/launch events, press releases and distributed a brochure.
Arts Council England was the main funder of Mainstream, and the organisation fully recognised the importance of increasing the diversity and long-term sustainability of its funding and income stream. The organisation worked to develop a key range of new projects for the sector that were anticipated to be attractive to potential funders.
Mainstream Partnership was partners with a variety of arts cultural projects that demonstrated its ability to adhere to media and programming deadlines.
- Leicester Comedy Festival 2009 – Some of Mainstream Partnership’s members had the opportunity to showcase their talent as part of the festival. Mainstream Partnership also hosted a seminar called ‘The Colour of Funny’ as part of Leicester Comedy Festival, which included a panel with writers, performers, promoters and broadcasters exploring the realities and challenges for Black and Minority artists.
- Bass Festival East Midlands – Mainstream Partnership supported its BME producer/promoter members based in the East Midlands including funding advice, which helped lead to successful Grants for Arts applications.
Some other projects included:
- Showcase Live – partners NHS Arts and Y Theatre
- Lyric Lounge – Modern Language Association/Arts Council England Cultural Olympiad Projects
- Stories and Journals – Modern Language Association Cultural Olympiad
- Facilitating the East Midlands Caribbean Carnival Consortium. (Coordination, meetings, Minutes etc.)
- Mainstream Partnership has also helped support BME member Leicester African Caribbean Arts Forum (LACAF) and Leicester’s Black History Season. In addition, the organisation archived and promoted Black History Season events across the East Midlands region. Mainstream Partnership therefore had appropriate contacts, skills and knowledge around this area of work.
The organisation had an Equalities Policy Statement and an Equalities Action Plan. As a member of the Performing Arts Leicester Group (a consortium of venues across the City), it therefore was able to work across a range of arts venues.
Mainstream was previously based at The Depot in Leicester’s new cultural quarter, taking an active part in the rich mix of third sector and social enterprise organisations. It had a representative and diverse board that included a range of skills and experiences who met on a regular basis and three part time staff: General Manager, Project Manager and Administrator.
During 2008 to 2009, Mainstream concentrated on strengthening its profile and advocacy role, particularly in Partnership Building, Advocacy and Strategic Planning and Marketing and Communications; developing stronger leadership and clearer management, and working on raising funds and diversifying the income. The Creative Stories Event and the first promotional brochure at the end of 2008 provided the opportunity to showcase a lead BME arts member and culturally diverse arts work.
Mainstream Partnership Staff Profiles:
Manager of Mainstream Partnership and Director of Dare to Diva Productions, her other roles include multi arts practitioner – musician, poet, writer, curator, director, producer, arts manager, visiting lecturer, reviewer and freelance journalist. Carol has made numerous radio and TV appearances, with published articles in magazines, newsletters etc, and poetry published online.
Other successful work includes, major international music recording and publishing contracts, documentary films, poetry with Apples & Snakes. Short listed nomination for the Tinniswood Award (radio play newcomer-Society of Authors/Writers Guild), ‘Style Up’ photographic Exhibition, BBC Music Live Festivals 1999/2000 and Nubian Star Lounge – Emerging BME performing Artists Showcases.
Hema Mistry, Project Officer
Hema Mistry is a Media & Cultural Studies graduate with a press background having worked with BBC Leicester and Nottingham before starting at Mainstream Partnership. She has always had an interest in the arts and culture sector in the East Midlands having worked on different projects and venues including the Spark Festival, International Music Festival, Phoenix Arts and Nottingham Playhouse.
She also works as a freelancer on projects across the region. Recent projects include co-ordinating the Chinese New Year celebrations 2009 at Lakeside Arts Centre, Nottingham and commercial funding for Creative Industries Network, Derby. Her other roles include event co-ordinator, freelancer writer and jewellery maker.
Victoria is the Administrator at Mainstream Partnership and is a graduate from De Montfort University, where she gained a BA honours in Arts Management and Media Studies.
She has gained work experience from a variety of arts and media organisations, which include Production Assistant at MATV and Assistant Theatre Manager at Fosse Road Arts. Victoria has also gained work experience with Leicester African Caribbean Arts Forum and was a regular contributor to BBC Radio Leicester’s ‘Talking Blues’ show ‘The Young People’s Corner.
Mainstream Partnership, Black History Season Tender, 29/02/2009.
Mainstream Partnership, Staff Profiles.
Donated by Mainstream Partnership Ltd: (Serendipity have worked in collaboration with Mainstream Partnership Ltd, with Representative Douglas Beoku-Betts who have given permission to re-publish documents).