The Social Art For Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion (SAFEDI) was an AHRC fellowship led by Manchester Metropolitan University, Social Art Network, & Axis, working with social artists, marginalised communities and policy makers around the UK to rethink what inclusion in the arts means. The Principal Investigator was my mentor Professor Amanda Ravetz. I was one of four costed Co-Researchers and Mentors to commissioned artists. Funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (£100,609) as part of its inaugural Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Fellowship, SAFEDI ran between February 2021 and April 2022. Its findings are summarised in this report (Social Artists For Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (SAFEDI): improving access to visual arts through artist-led policy transformation by Dr. R.M. Sanchez-Camus, 2022). A legacy of SAFEDI is the research network Social Art Inclusion Lab (SAIL), which I am a founding member of.  Banner image features some of the commissioned projects. All images on this page are screenshots from an Axisweb story.

  • One of ten pilot AHRC EDI Engagement Fellowships, SAFEDI is a research partnership between Manchester Met, Axis and the Social Art Network. It supports social artists, together with audiences and commissioning organisations, to champion equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI)  through artistic practice and lived experience. SAFEDI features six artists and artist collectives working with participants from under-represented communities in EDI policy making. 
  • SAFEDI responds to research by the Arts Council of England that shows that the arts are failing to reach certain groups (those of the global majority, disabled, excluded by gender or sexuality, from lower socio-economic backgrounds, and/or intersections of the above characteristics). Visual arts could accommodate more diverse talent in the UK, and that artists who work with under-represented communities need to be fully supported.
  • SAFEDI builds on previous research by Amanda (Validation beyond the gallery and From network to meshwork) into the lack of support for social artists carried out by Ravetz and Axis. SAFEDI aims to strengthen EDI in the visual arts, and to improve the offer to under-represented communities. This project developed support for social artists and share this learning with the arts and culture sector. SAFEDI has also benefitted from the critical friendship the Director of Research at Arts Council England. SAFEDI was supported by independent evaluator Sally Fort.
  • Commissioned art projects within SAFEDI included: Jar Squad by Carmen Wong, Rachel Dobbs and Tess Wilmot, and the amazing The Human Memorial by Yuen Fong Ling.  Ling’s work, for me, epitomises everything about what a new, diversified understanding of ‘leadership’ should be, ie, co-creative, not focus on nouns (such as a mythical individual with the charisma [sic] to lead) but a group action, not-ossified by in flux.
  • Artist Shama Khanna, another commissioned artist, is as exciting. They requested to work with me, and as costed co-researcher and mentor, I held a few sessions of discussions with them. They have produced a new book, Queer Diaspora Futurity, which proposes that a sense of futurity (entangled with the past and the present, inextricably linked with praxes of sustainability, visibility, and pleasure), is a condition of participation by many QTIBPOC (Queer, Trans and Intersex identified Black and People of Colour) in the arts and beyond. The project underlines the importance of self-care, creativity and interdependence within wider activist contexts in challenging social and environmental injustice.