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  • Who runs the world?

    10th November 2018


    Over the course of her time at LIFT Beki has provoked and observed the cultural sector develop their support of women as well as championed female artists and makers within the organisation. After almost a decade at the helm she reflects on a handful of the inspiring women who have been ahead of and beside her along the way.

    Image. Beki with LIFT staff, placements and LIFT Tottenham artists at the Tate Late: Women in Art in Feb 2018

    The Inventors
    Rose and Lucy – LIFT Founders

    For being trailblazers, bold and persistent – as I watch collectives of young women now taking the culture scene by storm like Gal-dem, Stance and Common Wealth I’m reminded what shoulders LIFT was founded on – straight out of university with verve and imagination they were the Liv Little and Crystal Genesis of the 80’s – look at them here with Twiggy! They have been very generous with their encouragement and advice, still championing LIFT in its 21st century form – conversations, politics and internationalism on beaches in Riga and graveyards in Greenwich.

    The Makers
    Kate, Erica, Priya, Bonnie, Maya and Carolyn

    Integral to recent LIFT success have been Kate (General Manager), Erica, Selma and Carolyn (Senior Producers), Priya (Projects Manager / Executive Assistant), Hannah Clifford (Head of Development), Bonnie (Head of Marketing) and Maya (Marketing & Digital Coordinator). Together (along with the rest of the team) we delivered five festivals and adventured across the world from Portugal to Ghana to Hamburg on cultural exchanges that were central to our work and vision. In 2014 Lyn Gardener (another inspiration) interviewed Kate about how we made the festival happen, the title of which was ‘Visas, divas and hotel rooms’ and whose tenacity, loyalty, creativity and sense of humour really was the foundation of the company. Erica and Carolyn have led some incredible and significant projects, many long-term participatory shows working with everyday Londoners (including 1500 pigeons) to create powerful stories about life, including Minefield that has gone on to tour all over the world. Priya, calmly and graciously supported Mark Ball and I, making sure we were in the right place at the right time, led and developed our highly-regarded placement programme and produced work for QEH. Hannah got our fundraising strategy in order. Bonnie, supported by Maya, has sold thousands of tickets on very little resource through smart, collaborative, resonant storytelling and graft. Their diverse opinions, perspectives, ideas and networks have been a huge inspiration and impacted our essence and direction of travel.

    The Locals
    Selma, Theo, Imwen, Kazuko, Gunes, Elsabet, Pat, Gina

    Since 2015 LIFT has been working intentionally in Tottenham with local residents, artists and producers. Selma Nicholls led the first 18 months of our time there, introducing us to so many influencers, residents and creatives, there wasn’t a time when we were there together that people didn’t shout out her name on the streets, from buses and cafes. Her capacity was immense and she is now Founder CEO of the award-winning Looks Like Me. Pat joined LIFT as a placement and stayed as a producer of LIFT Tottenham, enthusing all the way. Theo, Imwen, Kazuko, Gunes and Elsa are the artists we have collaborated with for four years and have shaped the way we work. Their generosity, grace and joy are a gift that has become entwined in our DNA for which we are grateful. We’re also thrilled that LIFT Trustee Hannah Azieb Pool will be joining our festival partners Bernie Grant Arts Centre as Artistic Director in the new year.

    The Future
    Prav, Sudenaz, Zerda, Crystal, Janina, Cristel and Asa

    With young people at the heart of a lot of what we do it’s been a huge privilege to work alongside lots of brilliant young women from across London and the world. The thirteen 13 year olds in Lies Pauwels’ The Hamilton Complex, so vulnerable and strong; the cast of Session from Tottenham, fabulous and fierce, ‘channeling the whole of humanity’ (Emma Rice); the young women who had experienced homelessness in Turfed; and then of course our brilliant UpLIFTer students with whom we have been working with since 2015 all the way through secondary school. When Prav, from The Vale School, took my daughter’s hand during a promenade performance in Mile End blew away in one moment any preconceptions you have about our city.

    The Legend
    Elizabeth Streb

    There are one-offs in life and Elizabeth is one of them. Walking face down on the side of City Hall overlooking the Thames in the middle of the Olympics with her silver mohican and gold John Galliano knee-high boots at 62 years old – where do you go after that. Her audacious ambition and confidence defied many things that summer’s day in London as we took over 7 iconic sites and spaces across the city in celebration of culture, sport and cities – it certainly was ‘One Extraordinary Day’. We salute you.

    The Critical Friends
    You know who you are

    Since being encouraged by a former mentor to gather a support group of peers I have championed this idea at LIFT for the team and myself. These women have challenged, encouraged, networked, advised, drank, laughed and cried with me over the years. It has been a joy to watch them deliver exceptional art and impact across the sector in various guises and I am grateful for their friendship and support which will live on beyond my time at LIFT.

    The Leaders
    Vicky, Lucy & Elyse, Toni & Jill, Kate & Louise, Emma & Anu, Henny, Deborah, Polly & Niamh, Kate, Sian, Mimi, Wendy

    LIFT relies on partnerships and this has enabled me to work closely with some inspiring leaders of cultural organisations. To deliver work with these women and many more has been exciting and rewarding, defying many challenges and getting lots of 5 star reviews. With the very sad news of Elyse Dodgeson’s death, I was grateful to be part of bringing over Anna Deavere Smith’s Notes From the Field this summer, which she had seen in New York before any of us and which has since gone on to be one of Time Out’s top 10 shows of 2018. I will hold dearly the big squeeze from Elyse on press night – ‘we did it!’.

    The Artists
    Lies Pauwels, Lola Arias, Frauke Requardt, Young Jean Lee, Anna Devere Smith, Alice Nash, Sarah Mainwaring, Natalia Kaliada, Amy Sharrocks, Martina Seitl, Abena Noel, Stacey McKnight and Alice Fleming

    Wow these ladies pack a punch – creative, fierce, funny, political, thoughtful, tenacious, gracious and smart. Watching them direct and make work that is powerful, resonant and engaging has been an absolute joy and ensuring their place on our stages, roofs, rivers and galleries is something I remain very proud of. To open LIFT 2018 with Trojan Women and a cast of 25 Korean women singing with ‘An epic display of female emotion’ (Exuent) felt the perfect way to start the festival – international, boundary-breaking, powerful, exceptional and bold.

    Viva la revolution!

    Kate Ward and Erica Campayne