The first discussion of the Critically Speaking podcast’s second season is with Tamara Harvey, who has been the Artistic Director of Theatr Clwyd in Mold since 2015. Tamara has been a freelance director for over fifteen years, working on new plays, classics, musicals and in film. She was also an Associate Director at the Bush Theatre in London. With the results of the US elections fresh in our minds at the time, we started by discussing the creative contributions at the beginning of each episode.

The creative contribution at the beginning of this episode was Skin by writer, spoken word artist and visual artist Jaffrin Khan.

If you’d like to listen to the episode, you can find us wherever you get your podcasts, or by clicking here.

Tamara Harvey
It was really exciting to hear so many voices that I don’t know. I knew a couple of them.

Jafar Iqbal
Which ones did you know? I’m guessing Connor [Allen, Welsh actor and writer], you probably knew.

Tamara
Yeah, Connor, and…I haven’t got the list up in front of me. One of the others I’d come across. It was exciting with my professional Artistic Director hat on and as a director as well. Of course, anything that expresses so personally for – in lots of them – difficult experiences and experiences that I in different ways, shapes and forms feel part of or responsible for, or part of the fabric of what’s being described…that’s always going to be tough listening.

Jafar
Was there a piece that stood out to you at all? I know I kind of leant you towards the piece Skin.

Tamara
Yeah, that’s the one I listened to the most. So, I listened to…anything that arrives on a Sunday, I have to listen to late at night because I’ve got two small children.

Jafar
Of course.

Tamara
(laughs) So I focused on Skin. There were lots of different things for me. I mean, there was an interesting personal thing around…this is a side note in terms of what we’re talking about but my husband has vitiligo, which is the condition where you lose the pigment in your skin. And so, for him, being out in the sun is a very particular thing, tied up with shame about his appearance and how he feels about the change that that creates and how it’s all kind of caught up in his very identity. And I guess that when I had those thoughts, there is a part of me that then immediately feels guilty that I’m making those kinds of connections. And yet, often our way into understanding, or even the kind of baby steps towards understanding, is through some kind of personal experience, isn’t it? Or a connection that we make.

Jafar
To be honest with you, I think one of the reasons why I pushed that piece towards you was because of the allusions to motherhood and parenthood and all that sort of stuff. I thought this probably will resonate most with you.

Tamara
I guess, listening to all of them, in the context of this moment, with Biden and Harris’ success, is so powerful. It was extraordinary for all of us in different ways, that moment of seeing them walk onto that stage. And for me, as a woman, of course, that’s the thing that immediately hits; but also seeing a woman of colour, a mixed-race woman, the child of immigrants, you know, all of those things, and then listening to all of these different pieces. It’s a curious thing, isn’t it? That moment where it feels like a huge step forward has been taken. And yet, there are still so many steps.

Jafar
I hope you don’t mind me asking this because it’s about your kids and, obviously, you don’t have to talk about your kids if you don’t want to, they’re your kids! But have you had conversations with them about this sort of stuff? Or have they had conversations with you about it?

Tamara
Conversations about race?

Jafar
About what’s going on, even if they don’t perhaps understand what’s going on?

Tamara
It’s a really difficult thing, I think. I find it very difficult to judge how much to talk with, particularly the four and a half year old – I mean, the two-and-a-half-year-old, that’s a different thing – about what’s going on in the world, whether that’s the pandemic, whether that’s Black Lives Matter, whether that’s the American election. I find that there’s a real tension between wanting to wrap them in cotton wool and protect them, and wanting them to understand the world they are entering. But one of the things I am acutely aware of and really struggle with is the fact that they are growing up in North Wales, in an overwhelmingly white population, and how to navigate that. I was born in Botswana and I directed my first show out there. In London, I lived in Walworth in southeast London, and then only moved here just before I found out I was pregnant just after getting this job. So I’m acutely aware of how very different the world that my children are looking at is from the world that I’ve spent most of my life in. I felt like it was okay as long as they were coming to the theatre lots and they were seeing lots of different people of different colours, of different backgrounds, at the theatre. And also, we spent a lot of time in London visiting my parents, but the pandemic’s stopped all of that. All of it. So I’m acutely aware of the narrowness of the world they experience now and trying to change that with the television they watch and the books that we read. But still, it’s not the same.

Jafar
Were you aware of what you were walking into when you moved to Flintshire?

Tamara
(pauses) No. (laughs)

Jafar
Did you not know how white it was?

Tamara
I don’t think I knew quite how white it was. I’d come up for a weekend before I applied. I knew Snowdonia a bit from childhood holidays, but I didn’t really know this little pocket. I think I probably thought there was more interaction between Liverpool and Manchester and maybe even Chester. But also, I hadn’t been a mum before and I think that changes the filter that you see the world through, because you just see things in a different way; more acutely aware of the world that your children are walking through than even the world that you’re walking through.

Jafar
[Theatr] Clwyd is the regional Theatre in, I’d say, North Wales, is that fair to say?

Tamara
Certainly the largest and certainly the largest producing house. Venue Cymru is just up the road, but that’s a presenting house only and Pontio, of course, is only an hour away. That also produces a bit and we’re co-producing with them this Christmas, but they’re more a presenting house. And then there are smaller companies like Frân Wen and stuff but yeah, we’re the largest producing house for sure.

Jafar
You are this big regional company, you are one of the biggest in the country. And, again, Flintshire is…I saw a stat earlier, it’s 98% white.  Who is Clwyd making work for?

Tamara
I think we’re making…yeah, that’s a really tricky question, isn’t it? We’re making work for our communities, of course, but that doesn’t mean that it can only reflect our communities, so that’s really important. But we are also making work for the wider world. If we just skip ourselves back to March, because the figures get very difficult post-March, but prior to that, we had just over 200,000 people through our doors in the previous year and over 200,000 people saw a Theatr Clwyd show elsewhere in the UK. So that, for me, is an important factor as well. Of course, our first responsibility, our first duty, has to be to our communities, which is about a 45-minute drive radius. But beyond that, we also do take our work out into the wider world. 

The thing that I’ve learned in this job so far is almost that I know less and less. Whenever I’ve tried to programme in a way that I think the audiences will respond to traditionally – whenever I’ve tried to be cynical, if you like about programming – and try to make it about bums on seats, it’s backfired. And when I’ve been bold, when I’ve programmed the work that I think really matters, which I try to do most of the time, that’s when they’ve responded. So, you know, I programmed The Importance of Being Earnest, which I think is a great comedy and a brilliant piece of writing but I was doing it because I thought it would be a popular title and they didn’t flock to it. And when I programmed Jumpy by April De Angeles, which felt like a really risky thing to do, an unknown for our audiences, an unknown play by an unknown writer, they booked in droves. So I think the thing that I do know about our audiences now, that I didn’t five years ago, is that they are unpredictable. They want to be surprised, they want to be challenged, they want to see exciting new work as much as they want to see revivals of classics, and they want to feel like they’re getting a sneak preview, you know, like we’re making something that they get to see the world premiere.

Jafar
You talked about ‘traditional’ and I wanted to bring up Panto. Your Pantos are all white, as far as I’m aware, or they have been for the last three or four years. Were you aware of that; were you looking at your cast and going, ‘hey, everyone’s white’?

Tamara
I’m deeply aware of it and I’m really ashamed of it. And frustratingly, this year was going to be the first year that that wasn’t going to be true. It’s not good enough and anything I say is just going to be in line with, ‘it’s not good enough’. It’s a conversation that the director and I had every year and every year, the director and the casting director, and Tayo [Akinbode], who’s our musical director, really… (sigh) This is where I really struggle because what I want to say is they really tried, but they failed. So the correct response for that would be they didn’t try hard enough. And Tayo and I have been talking a lot about why specifically casting actor-musicians of colour seems to be so difficult. And I think a lot of the time, it’s because we tend to go down the traditional casting routes, or the historically trod casting routes, specifically for actor-musicians. And as Tayo was saying, those aren’t necessarily where you will find the actor-musicians of colour, because they haven’t necessarily followed a traditional or a…traditional feels like such a wrong word. They follow their own traditional route into actor-musicianship, but not necessarily the one that is about a BA in actor-musicianship and then an agent from such and such and all of that. So he and I have been figuring out how we can create some kind of a database of actor-musicians of colour specifically for Pantos because that feels like it’s a first baby step.

Jafar
Is that the failure, that you weren’t able to find actor-musicians who are of colour or that there weren’t enough of a pool that you are aware of? Is that the failure that you’re referring to?

Tamara
Yeah, and I guess it is about a pool because there are a number of actor-musician Pantos across the country. It’s a very specific set of requirements. I mean, the cast for our panto are just insanely talented. We ask them to be singers and dancers and to be able to play two instruments or more, because we have a relatively small cast. We can’t get away with only one instrument unless sometimes that’s not true if it’s the drummer. It then becomes this really complicated Venn diagram about, well, this person is really brilliant but, actually, we need a person in that specific role, or we need someone in this mix who plays bass so it’s no good to us that they only play flute and clarinet. We need them to be able to do this thing as well. So I can completely understand how the team ended up in that place over the last few years. But it’s not a place that we will ever allow ourselves to be in again.

Jafar
It sounds like, whether rightly or wrongly, you are putting the creative needs of a production ahead of the casting. Isn’t that the issue, not just in terms of casting, but in all areas of arts positions, where you have this – not just people of colour, but other disadvantaged communities –  where they haven’t had the opportunity to learn more than one instrument, if at all? So you’re automatically just disregarding them?

Tamara
Well, I think you are if you start the process too late. I think there is a different version of the process where you start it much earlier, and where you put more resources towards it. So you can say, okay, for example, ‘you play keys and you dabble a bit in bass. We’re going to pay for you to have bass lessons for the next six months so that by the time we get to Panto, you’re ready for the role in the widest sense that we need you to play’. The other thing that is challenging, and Tayo talks a lot about this, is that he has previously cast someone who didn’t have two instruments because they were an actor of colour – not because they were an actor of colour, they were also very talented. But you know, he has made that choice that we are talking about and has felt as though he put them in a really difficult position, because they were then the only person in the company who didn’t and has felt like that wasn’t necessarily the right decision either. So I don’t think the solution can be, ‘okay, well, look, you can be the one person who doesn’t play two instruments. And that’s okay because you’re an actor of colour. So brilliant, you tick that box’. You know, that’s where it gets really difficult, isn’t it? So, in fact, you’ve got to look at other options that are about providing that training or developing that person’s skills in the different directions with them, if that’s what needs to happen. 

Jafar
To push it out a little bit then, how do you make sure that you’re not going, ‘hey, we’re gonna stick a Black person in there’ or ‘we’re gonna stick a South Asian person in there’ because by putting them in there, we’re now saying, “hey, we’re doing the right thing’?

Tamara
I don’t know that I know the answer to that. And I don’t…ohh, I hope, I believe, that that’s not the way that I function. But I am in a moment, of course, where I’m challenging all of those things about myself, and where I’m making sure that there are other people in the room challenging as well. So we’ve formed an anti-racism working group with members of our core staff, members of our wider freelance company and members of our community. And these are all questions that we’re wrangling with. So in our last meeting, the really knotty topic that came up was the one of quotas or targets and everyone in the room had a different feeling about that. I guess the way to make sure that you’re not being tokenistic is to ensure that an awareness of all the different needs of any different project is threaded through every single decision right from the get-go. And that the stories you’re telling and the people who have written those stories or created those stories, that the demands of those stories are as diverse and also includes stories about or of, from people of colour, so that it’s deeply rooted into the project itself, I guess. I feel like I’m making no sense and interestingly, you went into silhouette just as I was rambling through that completely nonsensical sentence. It’s just tough isn’t it? It’s a really good and important question. How do you make sure you’re not being tokenistic? But I don’t know. I don’t know how to even begin navigating the question.

Jafar
You mentioned about challenging yourself and asking yourself these questions to make sure that you are doing the right thing. How would you define whiteness? How would you define you?

Tamara
(sigh) I don’t know. And I’m not even certain that I have the right to define it.

Jafar
Can you explain why, why do you think that is? Why you don’t think you have the right to define it? Because we’ve defined BME.

Tamara
But I’m not sure…well, I certainly don’t think I can or should define BME. So arguably, I guess, to counter that I should be able to define whiteness, but I don’t know that I can. I was talking with my husband this morning about this conversation and about the pieces that I was listening to yesterday, and about a session I’d done not all that long ago on unconscious bias. And the need I felt in myself to say, as I did at the beginning of this conversation, probably wrongly, to say I was born in Botswana. It’s that same impulse that people have when they wanna go, ‘some of my best friends are gay!’ And it’s awful, isn’t it? But it is to do with defining oneself or wanting to set oneself in a different context. And I guess that’s why I’m hesitant about defining whiteness, because every different person’s experiences, attitudes, understanding is so different. And it’s part of the reason why at the beginning of this conversation, I said, is there a terminology that you would be more comfortable with? Because I want to make sure that I’m not stepping into a room with people of colour and assuming that people of colour is the right term to use, or assuming that any of the other terms are the right term to use.

Jafar
Has that happened in your conversations of late, where you’ve come into a space where that offence has been caused, or there’s been friction because of something like that?

Tamara
Yes, I used the term..I can’t remember whether I used the term people of colour, or whether I was talking specifically about Black people and the person I was speaking to –  I think we were also talking about the term mixed race – and they are mixed race but hate the term mixed race. I can’t remember whether I was causing offence by using the term Black people or causing offence by using the term mixed race, but it was one of the two.

Jafar
Why are all of the arts leaders in Wales white?

Tamara
Well, I imagine part of the reason is because the panels that have selected them were. Certainly, the panel that selected me was, and I wish it were just Wales. But actually, if we look across the wider UK, there are more leaders of colour, but still very few. And because of white privilege in both the wider UK and in Wales, and the access that people have had to the arts and therefore the experiences that they’ve been able to gain and therefore they’re the people who’ve had enough experience that is recognisable to those people who are making up the panels to be able to get in the room in the first place. I mean, it’s a whole…it’s layer upon layer upon layer, isn’t it, of white privilege, of access, of even an understanding of what different experiences might lead to someone being a good leader of an organisation.

Jafar
You spoke earlier about the election and Kamala Harris and being the first woman of colour coming into it. So I have to ask about Kully Thiarai. How did you feel when she got the job?

Tamara
I was really excited. I didn’t know her. My joint chief exec [Liam Evans-Ford] did, I don’t think he worked directly with her, but he’d been working in Yorkshire. It was the most extraordinary moment to be in theatre in Wales, because we had Kully coming in. We had Rachel [O’Riordan] at the Sherman [Theatre], I had just arrived not all that long before. Kate {Wasserberg] at The Other Room, Elen [ap Robert] at Pontio. So, I think in the immediate, probably for me, and this, of course, in the context of me being white, her womanness was the thing that I was really excited by in terms of the rooms that we could be in together. It’s been really noticeable in this last year how much those rooms have changed. And I feel bad saying that because I really like and admire and respect Joe [Murphy, Artistic Director of Sherman Theatre] and Lorne [Campbell, Artistic Director of National Theatre Wales] and Graeme [Farrow, Artistic Director of Wales Millennium Centre and Johnny [Jonathan Mumby], who’s now at the Royal Welsh College [of Music and Drama], Arwel [Gruffydd, Artistic Director of Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru], but I was in a meeting the other day and I realised that I was the only woman in a meeting of Artistic Directors where, just a couple of years ago, that balance was completely the reverse. So yeah, I was really excited about Kully, I didn’t know her particularly. When all of that happened. I think it was only about a year after similar had happened with us at Clwyd in terms of a kind of outcry about our lack of support for understanding of engagement with Welsh and Wales-based artists. And I remember at the time someone saying to me, ‘oh, this is the rotation. Every couple of years it’ll happen to one of the organisations in Wales. It was your turn. Now it’s NTW’s turn’. I’m not sure that that was true but for that reason, I certainly had an understanding of how it felt to be running an arts organisation and attacked for lack of Welshness. And I guess for me to be running an arts organisation as someone who is not Welsh and attacked for lack of Welshness. I think it’s far more difficult if you have the word ‘national’ in your title. I’m very relieved, actually, that Theatr Clwyd doesn’t.

Jafar
How did you feel when she left?

Tamara
I think she’s a really good human and I think she’s a really interesting artist. She’s lovely. She’s lovely. I don’t feel like I got to know enough about the work and her vision for the company to be able to comment on that, actually. I haven’t seen very much of it. I don’t really want to wade into a conversation about NTW and that whole situation, but I think there was the potential there for there to be a really beautiful interweaving of the international, the outward looking, and the nurturing of Welsh and Wales-based artists. I don’t think the two had to stand in opposition to each other.

Jafar
Obviously, BLM happened, and then you put out a small statement. And there was a little bit of criticism, there wasn’t a huge amount of criticism. But there was some from some people who had worked with you. Did that catch you by surprise? What was your reaction when people were like, well, you need to basically look at your own house?

Tamara
Well, no, I wasn’t surprised. I don’t know what the right thing to do is in that moment, I don’t think there is a right thing. I felt uncomfortable not putting out a statement and I felt uncomfortable putting out a statement. I think the statement is… (sigh) …I think it is important not to be silent. But I think it is more important what you do alongside, after the statement in the…yeahhh, umm…

Jafar
You’re damned if you do and you’re damned if you don’t.

Tamara
Yeah, and rightly so! We’re only damned if we do because we haven’t been doing the right things. We haven’t been working hard enough at it prior to that. But I put out that statement knowing that there would be reaction to it, and knowing that that was right. And of course, not knowing who would or whatever.

Jafar
The message you put out was more, ‘we stand behind everything that is happening right now’, rather than it being, ‘this is what we’re going to do’. Was that a conscious decision?

Tamara
Yes it was, because I wanted to make sure that anything we said we were doing, we were doing. And also that anything we did was in conversation with the wider community, and specifically the community of freelancers of colour, not just our artists. That word ‘artists’ is problematic, isn’t it? Because of all the people who feel like they’re not but still part of it. You know, we were in conversation with The Solidarity Project, we were not in conversation with but we were attending the Privilege Cafe. We were one of the donor organisations for the setting up of the [Wales, Culture and Race Task Force], but I certainly feel like anything that we said in that moment, the day that statement went out, would not have been grounded in a true understanding either of what we should do or of what we could do or were going to do, and I wanted to make sure that the steps, the actions that we took, were genuine.

Jafar
What weren’t you doing that you are now doing, or are planning on doing?

Tamara
We didn’t have an anti-racism working group. So we had an accessibility working group and it was really noticeable for me that we didn’t have an anti-racism working group, particularly in the context of the fact that all of our core staff are white. So even more important, then, to have people in the room who are people of colour and talking to us about that. We had not done a staff-wide programme of anti-racism training, or even perhaps a wider staff programme of conversation and discussion and understanding of, I think, most importantly, for me, what it might feel like as a person of colour, what steps we could take to ensure that we are an organisation who make it possible for freelancers of colour –  that feels better than artists of colour at the moment, if that’s alright –  to come and work with us. And then I guess, thinking more deeply and long term, how do we change the makeup of our core staff and also, how do we make sure that our communities are understanding and learning about the different experiences of people of colour in our country and beyond. Ugh, you know what, there’s so much that…there’s so much that we’re not doing.

Jafar
Is it something that you just didn’t even consider? Is that what it is? Ignorance is maybe a harsh word, but was it ignorance?

Tamara
I don’t think it was entirely ignorance. I think ignorance plays a part but there had been instances of people not wanting to come and work for us. I don’t think so much because of the staff –  because you don’t necessarily know when you get offered a job, what the makeup of the staff are – but because of the area that we’re in. So very early on, I had an actor turn down a role because the Brexit vote had just happened and Flintshire was the first to declare to leave and they said, ‘I don’t want to come in’. Yeah. It was a really difficult moment, actually, as an Artistic Director to think, ‘wow, my views sit in complete opposition to those of the community I serve’. And of course, the important thing in that is to remember that, yes, it was 52% of the vote but not everyone voted and etc, etc. But I had an actor say, ‘I don’t want to be in Mold given that’. We’ve had an actor experience real discomfort because of being one of the only people of colour in the building when making a project. I don’t think I was entirely ignorant and I would hate to say that my wider team were, but I think ignorance played a part. I also think, though, that fear of drawing attention to that ignorance or to that issue was part of it. I think one of the things that has happened that is really positive –  although it feels very odd to use that word in this context –  but one of the things that’s happened that feels positive is that I now feel like I can, we can, talk about these things, own up to being a bit shit. Until this moment, I think I would have felt scared to even draw attention to it and that, of course, is wrong.

Jafar
When does the guilt stop? When does the fragility stop and you just go, just get on with it?

Tamara
I think those are two quite different things again. I think, when does the fragility stop? Now. That’s part of it, isn’t it? It’s going to be uncomfortable, deal with that. Welcome to the party. But I think, when does the guilt stop is a different thing. And I think, possibly never. But that’s not an excuse to stand still.

Jafar
When did the lightbulb go off and you went, the fragility has to stop?

Tamara
I don’t think it’s one moment. I think it’s a choice that you have to keep making. I had a really powerful and also deeply irritating experience when I directed Pride and Prejudice at Sheffield [Crucible], and we had actors of colour in the Bennet family, specifically, I mean, across the cast. And there was so much press about it, it was really difficult for the company. No, that’s not entirely fair. I think it was positive for some of the company and difficult for others. That sense of, ‘can we just stop talking about it because it makes it feel like I’ve only been cast in this role because I’m an actor of colour, not because I’m the best person to play this role’. But the reason I talk about that is because I had a lot of conversations around then with the members of the company who are actors of colour, with how that experience felt with the different choices we make and the different stories we tell and who gets to tell what stories and all of those things. I don’t think I carried that learning into being an Artistic Director enough, which is why I say I don’t think there’s one moment. We’ll have to keep having that moment. You know, I had to have it when I got your email. ‘Well, that sounds a bit scary. Well, fuck off, of course it is, you know, you’ve still got to do it, and it’s still an important conversation to have’.

Jafar
Going back to the actor who was uncomfortable because they were the only person of colour in the building – 

Tamara
– not in the building, in the project – 

Jafar
Yeah sorry, in the project, and what you just mentioned about having, I guess, a duty of care for your cast and crew and making sure that they are comfortable. If you were in a building or in a project, which is core white, in an area which is majority white, if that artist of colour needs support, where can they turn to in that environment, if everyone around them is more or less white?

Tamara
Yeah, really good question. That’s one of the things that we’re figuring out and talking about. Interestingly, in that moment, the actor wasn’t the only person of colour in the building. There were a couple of other people and [they] didn’t want to turn to those people. So I think there’s also a difficult thing around presumption. I, we, in that instance, shouldn’t just presume that the person you might want to turn to for support, or talk to about this, is a stranger who happens to be of colour, who we happen to provide. Here you go, one size fits all. So that’s tricky, isn’t it? And I think also, on the other side of that, it would be wrong to assume that another person of colour might be equipped to offer support in that scenario. They might not have the experience or the knowledge or the training. I think there is a really delicate thing around mental health, around how you can offer someone support. But I think, as with any moment, where someone is suffering or in difficulties, and is a member of our company and a wider company, you have to be able to offer a smorgasbord of different possibilities, different support options and that’s what we’re trying to build up. There are still across North Wales – last piece of data that I saw –  40,000 people of colour. So whilst the percentages tell one story, I think the numbers tell a slightly different one, and that’s the one that I think is really important to remember. Also, to remember when we’re thinking about the makeup of the people who walk into our building as audience or as communities, why aren’t we reaching the 40,000 people of colour in our wider community? I mean, some of that is because North Wales is quite a large area. So, you know, how far you expect people to travel. But I think it’s a bit dangerous sometimes to only talk in terms of the percentages.

Jafar
Let’s talk about what you’ve been doing. You mentioned the anti-racist working group, which sounds fantastic. What kind of conversations are happening in Flintshire right now about anti-racism? What is it you’re trying to achieve? 

Tamara
Yeah, what on earth are we doing? So we are building up and working through an action plan that is trying to look across all the different aspects of our work. So on stage, off stage, core staff, freelancers, board, other governing bodies, communities, and it’s kind of from the micro to the macro, I guess. We’re in a particular moment at Clwyd where we’re about to move from being a part of Flintshire County Council into being an independent trust. So everything from going, let’s make sure we have all of the right policies, HR policies, documentation, all of that is being written at the moment because we’ve never had it as an independent trust. As I said, a really knotty debate, conversation, about quotas and targets. We’re also trying to look backwards as well as forwards and understand what the data is. Because we’re part of Flintshire County Council, that’s all a bit less robust than we would have liked. We’re looking at the wider team and the training and development and understanding that we can bring to the wider team. How we can work with partners. So we’re a member of Stage Sight, and we’re part of a consortium with Stage Sight. We are in conversation with The Solidarity Project and Privilege Cafe. I mentioned the task force, but then also trying to look across the country at other partnerships that might be possible specifically with our community groups, because of the thing we talked about – a feeling like there is a very real danger of growing up in Flintshire that you don’t have any communication with, or knowledge of, the experiences of people of colour. And so, what are the youth groups or community companies or other groups in other parts of the country that we might be able to partner with, to create work with, or to at least be in conversation with, to kind of broaden that experience? Sorry, I’m kind of not being very…I’m dotting about all over the place.

Jafar
There’s a lot going on. Is there an endgame to what to do? Obviously, not an endgame to the actual work, but an end game to the conversations, if that makes sense?

Tamara
I don’t know. That’s also part of the conversation. It’s important to talk about it. It’s also important not to virtue signal. I feel, I personally feel, really uneasy with the idea of a press release that goes, ‘here are all the things we’re doing to prove to you guys that we are anti-racist and virtuous and all of that’. But, if in conversation with the people of colour that we’re working with, it becomes apparent that that kind of statement is actually really important, then we’ll do that. I don’t necessarily think I’m the right person to make that judgment.

Jafar
When we formulated the series of the podcast [in June 2020], it came from a place of anger. But it’s November now and there’s definitely more hope in everything that we’ve been talking about. If those were the two extremes, where do you sit right now?

Tamara
Minute by minute, I stand in very different places and I think for me, it’s probably encapsulated in how I felt as Kamala Harris walked out on – whenever it was, 2am on Sunday morning –  and it felt so extraordinary. And then in the same moment, it felt so depressing. I felt like, ‘oh my god, this is amazing and holy fuck, how can this in 2020 be amazing?’ You know, like, how have we not got further than this? And then we watched it again with my daughter the next day and I was holding her as we watched it and it was really difficult because I found myself… (sigh) I found myself saying, ‘look, this is the first time in history that a woman, and a woman of colour, has walked out as the Vice President-elect’. And in the same moment that I was celebrating that, that I was telling her how amazing that was, I was furious with myself, with the world, that I was telling my four-and-a-half year old daughter that that was a thing to be excited about. Because I wanted also to say to her, ‘it is unforgivable that this is the first moment that has happened’. So… (laughs) see, even as I give you the answer to that question, I sit minute by minute in a space of fury and joy, and I’m white. The depth of my feeling on this, in terms of that moment, is coming from being a woman. So I can’t even begin to know how it feels when all of those things are feeding into that emotion for you.

Jafar
I think that’s a good place to end. Jasmine, anything from you at all?

Jasmine
I just wanna say that I feel like this is the most honest conversation I’ve ever had with an arts leader in Wales. A lot of what you said does resonate with me, I think it’s that shared womanhood that, I agree, it’s incredibly frustrating. But at the same time, I feel like I have to cling onto that hope that things will get better and I think hearing you, I do believe that things will get better.

Tamara
Well that means, that means the world. You know what, I’ve found that I’m…I’ve suddenly realised I’m hugging myself (laughs) As I was, when you asked me where I stood between anger and hope, I suddenly realised I started clutching myself. Jasmine, that means the world (exhale) I think all I can do as a white leader in this moment is try to be honest. It’s both the most difficult thing because I am ashamed and I am frustrated with myself, with the world, all of those things, but also the easiest thing to do because it’s nowhere near as hard for me. The other thing that’s interesting for me is that the hardest bit of this conversation was the bit where you asked me what we’re doing because… (sigh)

Jafar
Is that because you don’t wanna talk about it?

Tamara
No, no, it’s not that. It’s because none of it feels enough. It’s because we’re still searching for it… (sigh) It’s, I guess, because I strongly believe that you have to take the small steps in order to take the big ones. But the small steps also feel pants because you wanna be taking the big ones. So, yeah, that’s the hardest bit.