The Sue Porter Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Complaints Choir
3 November 2017
Staff and students come together to voice their experiences and make a case for change at the Brigstow Showcase event.
Last month a scratch choir comprising of equality and diversity groups within the University, took to the stage to sing about the barriers they face in their daily lives.
The choir performed at the Brigstow showcase event on 24 October in front of a large audience, including Pro Vice-Chancellor, Professor Nishan Canagarajah, Chair of the University’s Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) steering group. They sang about both the physical and cultural barriers that still exist within their working environment.
The aim of the choir, which was supported by Brigstow Institute seedcorn funding, was to influence change in the levels of engagement with equality and diversity to make it ‘everyone’s business for everyone’s gain’.
The original idea was conceived by Dr Sue Porter, a huge campaigner for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, who passed away in January 2017.
Learning from social clowning and arts-based approaches which enable creative disruptions, a Complaints Choir takes an embodied approach, working with humour to enable change.
The project began with workshops facilitated by Breathing Fire (a Black Women' s Playback Theatre in Bristol) which enabled staff and students to give voice to their ‘complaints’ in a fun and informal setting. Emma Smallwood, a local composer and choir director, then developed the common themes from the workshops into a song.
Watch the project film:
Sue worked at the Norah Fry Centre for Disability Studies, at the University of Bristol, for 7 years and was influential in challenging the thinking around methodologies and about disability, using her lived experience – she had had MS for 20 years – as well her experience in social work, management and community facilitation.
She was also involved in a wide range of disability networks, including chairing the Vassall Centre Trust, and was a founder of the Disabled Staff Forum within the University. She was a strong advocate for creating an equal working environment for disabled staff