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‘Queer and Now’: The role of LGBTQIA+ art and culture in the UK

Hannah Curran-Troop reflects on 'Queer and Now' festival held at Tate Britain on June 10th 2023.

Published onJun 14, 2023
‘Queer and Now’: The role of LGBTQIA+ art and culture in the UK

The Panel ‘What would a genderqueer museum look like’, moderated by E-J Scott (Founder and Curator, Museum of Transology), and panelists left to right - Winn Austin (Actress and LGBTQIA+ Activist), Janine Francois (Lecturer and Tate Britain PhD Researcher), Valentino Vecchietti (Writer, Campaigner, and DE&I Policy Consultant), and Scottee (Artist and Broadcaster)

As part of CIRCE’s London Lab’s inquiry into research and initiatives concerning “Diversity” across London’s CCI, the London Lab’s project researchers will attend and report on a range of cultural events connected to the project’s theme.

The first of these events was ‘Queer and Now’ festival, a one-day programme which took place at Tate Britain on Saturday 10th June and celebrated the role of LGBTQIA+ art and culture in the UK. Queer and Now welcomed a wide, diverse and majority LGBTQIA+ audience, and featured a range of panels, workshops and creative sessions run by LGBTQIA+ artists, cultural producers, and thinkers. With the core programme exploring ‘Art and Museums’, many key institutions from the wider cultural sector hosted educational workshops and sessions around their LGBTQIA+ inclusion work, including: The Welcome Collection, Bishopsgate Archives, The Museum of Transology, and Queer Britain Museum. A number of tours facilitated by Tate Curators also took place throughout the day, exploring Tate’s permanent art collection through various themes connected to sexuality, gender, race, and LGBTQIA+ politics.

Issues of diversity, representation, inclusion, and equality were crucial points of inquiry across both the festival’s programme as well as the conversations taking place in each of the sessions. These discussions also raised important questions around the ways the increased representation of LGBTQIA+ and marginalized groups in UK cultural programmes does not necessarily equate to these groups feeling welcome to participate. Speakers highlighted the work yet to be done to undo the exclusion LGBTQIA+ groups have experienced both in the exhibiting as well as archiving of UK cultural heritage. Some conversations also illustrated the ways the cultural sector has been preoccupied with preserving cultural histories which no longer hold relevance, and how this continues to prolong a more equal representation in many UK museums. One of the final panels of the day ‘What does a genderqueer museum look like’ sought to offer a reimagining of the cultural institution, to a site in which all groups and diverse backgrounds can find a place in these spaces on their own terms. For the panelists, such a reimagining would involve shifting existing institutional structures towards a more accessible and community-led model, ultimately opening out a more inclusive landscape in which LGBTQIA+ and diverse groups feel welcome to participate.

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