Travis Alabanza - Burgerz. Photo credit Elise Rose.
Travis Alabanza - Burgerz. Photo credit Elise Rose.

October is Black History Month in the UK. In celebration, we’ve collated some exciting Black British artists and organisations working today as suggested by our Arts colleagues at the British Council. There’s new music for you to listen to, literature to read, new theatre to discover – and even more besides.

Architecture, Design and Fashion

For Black History Month, our ADF team look back on two practitioners they’ve worked with recently: Yinka Ilory, a multidisciplinary artist and Jahday Ford, a designer fusing traditional glass blowing techniques with digital design.

Yinka Ilori

Recently appointed to the Craft Council’s Board of Trustees, Yinka Ilori’s designs are commonly situated within public spaces examining how we, as a community, use and respond to shared space. Recent works include the ‘Colorama’ Skatepark near Lille in France, a series of large-scale murals in collaboration with Jack Arts around London, ‘Happy Street’ in Battersea and the ‘Colour Palace’ pavilion for Dulwich Picture Gallery.

Watch our interview with Yinka Ilori

Jahday Ford

Jahday Ford is a recent graduate of Manchester School of Art. A designer who fuses the traditional aspects of glassblowing with the contemporary technology of digital design – finding a balance between the two and bringing the signature aspects of digital design into the physical through his pieces. His award-winning project ‘Breathe’ has been exhibited nationwide and he was one of our practitioners for the global Crafting Futures ‘Why I Make’ campaign launched earlier this year.

Join Jahday in the studio 


There are hundreds of organisations doing great work all year round to bring Black film to audiences in innovative ways. The film team have selected a handful of them – festivals, event cinema, networking opportunities and collectives all feature, including Bounce Cinema.

Bounce Cinema 

Bounce is a community helping audiences discover and connect with the world of film. Through a programme of screenings, talks and workshops, Bounce brings thousands of people together to celebrate cinema. We especially love that this indie organisation reinvests a percentage of time and resources into supporting new and emerging talent. Follow them on Twitter @bouncecinema.

Read more on our Film blog.


From poetry to romance, debut novels to prize-winning best-sellers, the Literature team dedicate this month’s ‘What We’re Reading’ list to the Black British writers who have captured their imagination lately. Here’s an excerpt of the blog:

My Darling from the Lions by Rachel Long

‘Rachel Long is a poet and the founder of Octavia Poetry Collective for Womxn of Colour.

‘Her poems are brutal, she starts with an image or a sentence, then over the following lines unpacks it and deconstructs it, and then smacks you in the face with the conclusion. The collection is surprising, keeping you on your toes as a reader, and throughout the voice of the poet comes through clearly – it’s intimate, but at arm’s length. Long’s poems are familial, at times you feel you’ve been invited to the family dinner table as her parents shout to each other from different rooms. By the end of the collection your brain has been taken out and given a good scrub. I highly recommend it.’

Read more on our Literature blog.


The Music team have picked out some of the artists they love to listen to. From the godfather of UK hip-hop to a prolific anonymous collective, set aside some time to sit back, relax and listen to their music. Here’s just a taster of what you can expect from their selection:

Cooly G

‘Cooly G’s innovative sound keeps on growing and features complex rhythms, futuristic landscapes as well as her own voice which brings rich warmth to her music. Taking influence from R’n’B, techno, grime and acid house, her sound has found a natural home at Hyperdub, alongside her solid reputation as a DJ.’

Read more on our Music blog.

Theatre and Dance

Our Theatre and Dance team have chosen exciting and inspiring work from Black British artists working in choreography, theatre and audience development. One highlight of their selection is performer, writer and theatre-maker Travis Alabanza.  

Travis Alabanza 

Performer, writer and theatremaker Travis Alabanza is one of the UK’s most distinctive trans voices. Their work has been seen at venues such as the Tate and the Barbican and their debut poetry book Before I Step Outside [You Love Me] has been shipped to over 19 countries.

In their show BURGERZ, seen at the British Council’s Edinburgh Showcase, Alabanza transforms a traumatic personal experience into a multi-layered performance that questions how we make assumptions about people and spaces. Alongside it, they have led conversations about safety and space for trans people in the UK and internationally.

Alabanza talks extensively on trans politics – we're looking forward to their key note speech, ‘Smashing down the doors’ at this year's (all digital) Black and Gold Festival.

Get tickets for Travis Alabanza’s keynote speech on 23 October

Follow Travis Alabanza on Twitter @travisalabanza and Instagram @travisalabanza

Read more on our Theatre and Dance blog.

Visual Arts

The Visual Arts team have chosen to highlight upcoming British Pavilion artist, Sonia Boyce OBE RA, who will represent Great Britain at the 59th International Art Exhibition.

Boyce is known for her highly innovative and experimental approach to art-making, using performance, drawing, print, photography, and audio-visual elements in her work. Since the 1990s, her practice has become increasingly improvisational and collaborative, inviting a broad cross-section of participants to come together and speak, sing or move in relation to the past and the present. At the heart of Boyce's work is an empowering exploration of gestures and events, with an underlying focus on the personal and political subjectivities behind them.

Read more on our Visual Arts blog.

Is there an artist or organisation you would add to the list? Get in touch with us via Twitter @BritishArts.