Arts Council funding for international showcases of British BAME writers

Breaking Ground Black British Writers at Green Apple Books, San Francisco 2016_3

Speaking Volumes secures Arts Council funding to showcase British BAME writers internationally

Speaking Volumes is the only literary agency, and one of just four London-based arts organisations, to secure a coveted international grant to showcase talented British black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) writers to European audiences.

The International Showcasing Fund, awarded by Arts Council England, will enable Speaking Volumes to champion the best emerging and established contemporary BAME writers through its innovative Breaking Ground project.

As well as giving BAME poets and novelists access to an unprecedented international platform to present their creative work, the European and UK Breaking Ground tour will also facilitate the growth of new overseas markets and audiences through live events and digital engagement.

Sharmilla Beezmohun, co-director of Speaking Volumes, said: “At this moment in time, with societies becoming ever more divided, the arts have never been more important in fostering a sense of inclusivity. Our new and extended Breaking Ground programme, which builds on our successful US tours of 2015 and 2016, will highlight the huge creative, social and economic contribution Britain’s BAME writers make to societies and cultures.”

Stand Up and Spit discussion at British Library, London, 2015

Stand Up and Spit discussion at British Library, London, 2015

Karen McCarthy Woolf premiered a new film 'Morbleu'

Karen McCarthy Woolf premiered a new film ‘Morbleu’ at Breaking Ground, Davis CA, 2016













Writers of all genres, such as Jay Bernard (poet/graphic storyteller), Gabriel Gbadamosi (novelist/playwright), Colin Grant (life writing) and Roger Robinson (poet/musician) and Warsan Shire (poet) have already been featured on the Breaking Ground programme in the USA. Now, leading literature professionals from across Europe will be invited to learn about the depth and breadth of British BAME writing talent to build long-lasting collaborations and cultural enrichment. Some events will also be live streamed.

Bernardine Evaristo, award-winning author and Professor of Creative Writing at Brunel University, said: “At a time when very few Black British writers are getting published, we need to treasure and support those who are producing the narratives that expand, explore and enrich our notions of culture, literature and society in the 21st century. It’s so important that more than a select few BAME writers reach an international audience, and this showcase is an excellent way to start.”

Irna Qureshi, Director of the Bradford Literature Festival, said: “Our collaboration with Breaking Ground will also create a step-change for literary diversity in the North of England, by furthering cultural development. It will also strengthen Bradford’s position as the literature hub for the North.”

Sarah Sanders, Speaking Volumes’ co-director, added: “As a small independent literary organisation, being able to present such a high profile and diverse literature showcase to British and European audiences at five locations across the continent will not only build on our previous work, but will reflect our steadfast commitment to racial equality and social justice during a time of uncertainty.”

From July 2017 to February 2018, Breaking Ground events will be held in key venues, festivals and conferences in Finland, Germany, Lithuania and Spain, before returning to the UK in May 2018 to a host of showcase events at the Bradford Literature Festival.


The Association for the Study of the Worldwide African Diaspora (ASWAD); Seville, Spain |

Bradford Literature Festival; Bradford, UK |

AfroEuropes / Fest Afrika; Tampere, Finland | /

The International Vilnius Book Fair, Lithuania |

Lettrétage; Berlin, Germany |


Nick Chapman:

Sharmilla Beezmohun: