Naseem Khan OBE
We were hugely saddened to hear of the death of Naseem Khan on 8th June 2017. Naseem was an advisor to the Unfinished Histories project in its early years and we had hoped to interview her. Her 1976 report on The Arts Britain Ignores altered the cultural landscape, forcing the arts establishment and funders to begin the – all-too-slow – process of addressing the needs to support cultural diversity in the arts. We took its title as the starting point for the section on Black and Asian theatres in the exhibition Re-Staging Revolutions in 2013-14. Naseem was, with John Ashford, one of the first theatre critics for Time Out and later wrote weekly columns for the New Statesman covering an inspiring range of innovative arts practice, focused on community and diversity, as well as reviews for Drama magazine. She became the Arts Council’s first Head of Cultural Diversity and went on to write, run her own consultancy, be part of the grassroots initiative Takespace, do work on ageing and help organise her local community through the Friends of Arnold Circus. See Suman Bhuchar’s obituary in Asian Culture Vulture for more details or The Guardian.
She was interviewed for the V&A Theatre Collections / Talawa Theatre collection Blackstages.
Naeem’s memoir Everywhere is Somewhere (Bluemoose, 2017) was published just after her death. Jacob Ross wrote of it: ‘In hindsight, and in the light of the subsequent impact of BAME arts and culture on British society, Khan’s assertion was visionary. This is a writer whose legacy will remain for us, inspirational and lasting.’