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The Black Women Shaking Up The Scottish Arts Scene

Being the ‘only black’ is the reoccurring theme of my life. From nursery to school, among friends or at the weekly drama class I attended for six years, more often than not I was the ‘only one’. So, of course, it’s unsurprising when entering museums, galleries, theatres, both traditional and unconventional arts spaces in Edinburgh in particular, this theme still stands.

The “arts” in the form they take, are historically an experience created for and so dominated by the privileged few, spoken in the sparklingly white and inaccessible language of air kisses, clinking champagne flutes and cries of “daaaahling!” But in Scotland, and across the UK, those who are making the art and those who are coming to see it is changing; a tipping point is near, and waves are being made.

I was lucky enough to speak to three black women, who are all making those waves in the Scottish arts scene in their own way and on their terms.

Mele Broomes is a performer, director, curator, producer and choreographer who has lived and worked in Scotland for 12 years. Her work takes different forms but at the heart it is “a representation of my voice and the collective voice within this systematically divided realm supported by our ancestry and people of today.”

Mele grew up dancing at family gatherings and any kind of social setting and then went on to gain her formal training at The Scottish School of Contemporary Dance in Dundee, where she would lead fundraising events to financially support herself and six other dancers.