It’s 26th December 2019. Across the various rooms of my grandad’s home, my family are deep into their post-dinner Boxing Day itis. Little did we know, this would be the last time some of us would see each other for the foreseeable. But here we are, half of us slumped across the couch, packed in like sardines; teenagers lined up the stairs doing up TikTok routines; aunties eating the remains of the apple crumble from the oven dish; children flossing rapidly to the sounds of game show applause. And out of nowhere, the politicking between Grandad, Dad and Uncles erupts into a rolling barrel of laughter. It’s contagious. This space is everything.
In my work as an artist and organiser committed to Black liberation, I’ve been seeking sanctuary. When I co-founded MAIA in 2013, I wanted to be part of supporting creative people to do what they love for a living. We knew that physical space mattered – because our community needed safety, privacy and freedom to drop our shoulders and just be. As the organisation evolved, we understood in detail the systemic challenges that denied this possibility.